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THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 


BY  THE  SAME  AUTHOR 


THINKING  AS  A  SCIENCE 

"Mr.  Hazlitt's  suggestions,  hints  and  prescrip- 
tions for  efficient  thinking  are  so  sound,  so  lucid  and 
so  convincing  that  we  might  wish  for  their  universal 
dissemination.  If  they  were  generally  accepted 
and  practised,  we  should  have  something  like  an 
intellectual  revolution. — " The  Tribune  (New  York). 

"Altogether  a  valuable  book  for  both  student 
and  layman,  helpful,  provocative  of  thinking." — 
The  Living  Age. 

"Helpful  in  developing  the  power  of  concentration 
and  in  showing  methods  of  reasoning." — The  New 
York  Evening  Post. 

"The  book  should  increase  any  one's  ability  to 
think  clearly,  logically  and  to  the  point." — Phila- 
delphia Telegraph. 


E.  P.  DUTTON  &  COMPANY 


THE  WAY  TO 

WILL-POWER 

By 

HENRY  HAZLITT 

Author  of  "Thinking  as  a  Science" 


'  The  strength  of  your  life  is  measured  by  the  strength  of 
your  will." — Henry  Van  Dyke. 


NEW  YORK 

E.  P.  BUTTON  &  COMPANY 

681  FIFTH  AVENUE 


Copyright  1922 
By  E.  P.  DUTTON  &  COMPANY 


All  Rights  Reserved 


Printed  in  the  United  Stairs  of  Am erica 

MM  -2  »^22 
©CI.A661496 


CONTENTS 

CHAPTER  PAGE 

I  A  Revelation i 

II  The  Intellect  as  a  Valet 5 

III  The  Price  One  Pays         15 

IV  Old  Bottles  for  the  New  Wine   ....  20 

V    Resolutions     Made     and     Resolutions 

Kept 32 

VI  Success  and  the  Capital  S  ......    41 

VII  The  Scale  of  Values        .......    46 

VIII  Controlling  One's  Thoughts 55 

IX  The  Omnipresence  of  Habit 63 

X  The  Alteration  of  Habit 74 

XI  Will  and  the  Psychoanalysts     ....     84 

XII  Concentration        109 

Xllf  A  Program  of  Work 120 

XIV  The  Daily  Challenge     .......  127 

XV  Second  and  Third  Winds 136 

XVI  Moral  Courage      . 153 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

I 

A  REVELATION 

YOU  have  seen  the  advertisements.  The  lion 
and  the  man  are  facing  each  other;  the  man 
upstanding,  hands  clenched,  his  look  defiant  and 
terrible;  the  lion  crouching.  Who  will  win?  The 
man,  without  doubt.  He  has  what  the  beast  lacks, 
Will-Power. 

And  at  the  bottom  of  the  page  is  the  triangular 
clipping  which  you  cut  out  and  send  for  the  book 
on  how  to  acquire  it. 

Or  perhaps  the  advertisement  promises  you  a 
$10,000  a  year  position.  Nothing  less  than  $10,000 
a  year  seems  capable  of  attracting  the  present-day 
reader  of  twenty-cent  magazines.  And  those  posi- 
tions, one  learns,  are  reserved  for  the  men  of  Will- 
Power  (not  forgetting  the  capitals). 

The   advertisements   betray  bizarre   ideas   about 

the  will  and  will-power.     Any  one  who  has  the 

remotest  notion  of  psychology  might  be  led  from 

them  to  suspect   the  advertised   course.     But  the 

l 


2  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

advertisements  reflect  not  alone  the  advertiser's 
ideas,  but  the  ideas  of  the  plain  man.  They  are 
written  to  catch  the  plain  man's  eye,  and  they  do 
catch  his  eye,  else  how  account  for  their  persistence, 
their  enlargement,  and  their  multiplication,  notwith- 
standing the  notorious  expensiveness  of  adver- 
tising? 

Now  I  am  about  to  reveal  a  profound  secret 
about  the  will.  The  revelation  will  cause  a  good 
deal  of  shock  and  disappointment  and  a  bedlam  of 
protest.  However,  I  derive  courage  to  meet  the 
protest  because  I  have  an  imposing  body  of  psy- 
chologic opinion  behind  me.  I  have  behind  me 
most  of  the  reputable  psychologic  opinion  since 
Herbert  Spencer.     And  so  here  it  is : 

The  will  does  not  exist. 

I  repeat  it,  lest  you  fancy  there  has  been  a  mis- 
print. There  is  no  such  thing  as  the  will.  Nor 
such  a  thing  as  will-power.  These  are  merely  con- 
venient words. 

Now  when  a  man  denies  the  existence  of  the  will 
he  is  on  dangerous  ground.  It  is  as  if  he  were  to 
deny  the  existence  of  the  tomato.  Yet  I  do  deny 
that  the  will  exists,  in  anything  like  the  same  sense 
that  the   tomato  exists.      The  tomato  is  a  definite 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  3 

entity.  You  can  pick  it  up,  handle  it,  feel  it,  or 
throw  it  at  the  person  who  denies  its  existence. 
And  this  evidence  of  reality  may  convince  him.  But 
I  am  not  so  crude  nor  so  fatuous  as  to  deny  the 
existence  of  the  will  simply  because  you  cannot 
feel  it  on  taste  it.  I  do  not  deny  it  simply  because 
it  is  not  material  and  tangible.  I  deny  it  because  it 
is  not  even  spiritual.  The  plain  man's  conception 
of  the  will  is  utterly  and  grotesquely  wrong,  and 
he  must  be  shaken  from  it  violently. 

The  popular  conception  seems  to  be  that  the 
Creator,  having  decided  that  a  man  might  want  to 
have  a  brain  to  use  upon  occasion,  bethought  Him- 
self about  the  ingredients,  and  dropped  in  first  a 
memory,  then  an  imagination,  then  a  will,  and  then 
a  power  to  reason.  Though  popular  conception  is 
vague  on  the  details,  it  is  probable  that  the  last  was 
a  small  parcel,  wrapped  in  prejudices  to  protect  it 
from  strain. 

But  the  Creator  could  have  left  out  the  will,  and 
no  one  would  have  been  the  wiser.  Proof  of  it  is 
that  so  few  of  us  were.  It  was  only  recently  that 
psychologists  began  to  suspect  its  absence. 

You  are  making  a  gesture  of  impatience.  "This 
is  a  little  too  stiff,"  you  say.  "There  is  a  limit 
to  which  you  can  impose  on  me,     I  know  when  a 


4  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

man  shows  a  will,  and  when  he  doesn't.  I  have 
met  strong-willed  men,  and  I  have  met  weak-willed 
men,  and  I  know  the  difference  when  I  see  it." 

For    your    remonstrance    I    have    the    greatest 
respect.    And  I  will  now  proceed  to  give  heed  to  it. 


II 


THE  INTELLECT  AS  A  VALET 

T  TAVING  given  some  hint  of  what  the  will  is 
■*■  ■*■  not,  it  is  now  my  pleasant  duty  to  tell  what  it 
is.     This  may  best  be  done  by  illustration. 

You  resolve  to  abolish  late  nights.  Two  nights 
out  a  week  will  be  your  limit.  No  night  out  later 
than  midnight.  It  doesn't  pay.  A  man  loses  sleep. 
He  hurts  his  health.  He  isn't  as  fresh  as  he  ought 
to  be  for  work.  He  is  just  frittering  his  time 
away,  and  getting  nowhere,  and  not  improving 
himself  evenings,  and  it's  expensive,  and — 

So  you  resolve  to  cut  it  out.  With  a  free  con- 
science you  make  your  two  engagements  for  the 
coming  week.  About  Monday  noon  Jones  drops 
around  at  the  office.  There  is  a  little  game  of 
poker  toward  some  night  that  week  when  they 
can  get  the  crowd  together.  Now  poker  is  marvel- 
ously  fascinating.  You  haven't  seen  the  boys  for 
a  long  time.  And  you  hate  to  lie  to  Jones,  and 
tell  him  all  your  nights  are  occupied,   for  such  a 


6  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

little  reason.  And  you  are  ashamed  to  tell  him 
the  truth.  That  you  have  resolved  to  go  out  only 
two  nights  a  week,  come  what  may,  might  strike 
Jones  as  deliciously  funny.  He  might  tell  the 
boys,  who  also  have  a  sense  of  humor.  And  there 
is  the  possibility  that  Jones  might  be  offended. 
wSo  you  look  straight  before  you,  undecided  for  a 
minute  or  two,  or  you  make  feeble  excuses  (not 
your  real  ones)  which  are  easily  overridden  by 
Jones,  and  you  end  by  thinking  to  yourself  that 
you  will  not  count  this  week,  or  that  you  will  make 
up  for  it  the  week  after  .  .  .  And  your  dis- 
honor is  complete. 

Let  us  analyze  this  degrading  incident.  Man  is 
a  bundle  of  desires.  He  desires  this,  and  that, 
and  something  else  again.  And  the  world  is  so 
constituted  that,  in  nearly  every  instance,  one 
desire  cannot  be  attained  save  at  the  sacrifice  of 
some  other.  This  provoking  state  of  affairs  was 
long  ago  crystallized  in  the  phrase  that  you  cannot 
eat  your  cake  and  have  it  too.  More  broadly,  it 
may  be  expressed  in  the  phrase  that  everything 
we  desire  has  its  price.  The  price  of  a  cake  is 
a  dollar;  the  price  of  keeping  your  dollar  is  the 
loss  of  a  cake. 

This    illuminating    truth    does    not    stop    at    the 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  7 

grossly  material  things,  at  the  things  whose  prices 
can  be  measured  in  money.  It  extends  through- 
out the  spiritual  universe.  The  price  of  earning 
$2  extra  a  day  may  be  working  an  extra  hour  a 
day;  which  may  be  conceived  either  as  the  pain 
of  an  extra  hour's  work  or  as  the  loss  of  an  hour's 
leisure.  Conversely,  the  price  of  an  hour's  extra 
leisure  a  day  is  $2  a  day. 

$Ve  are  now  coming  to  grips  with  our  actual 
case.  The  price  of  staying  out  late  at  night  is 
sleepy  health,  efficiency  at  business,  money,  self- 
improvement.  That  is,  these  are  the  things  that 
the  man  must  pay,  lose,  sacrifice,  in  order  that  he 
may  stay  out  late  at  night.  Conversely,  the  price 
of  sleep,  health,  efficiency  at  business,  money, 
self -improvement,  is  the  pleasure  of  staying  out 
late  at  night  that  one  gives  up. 

We  have  taken  a  devious  course  to  arrive  at 
our  conclusion,  yet  we  must  deviate  a  little  further 
before  we  come  back.  We  must  consider  the 
Intellect.  For  centuries  we  have  glorified  the 
intellect;  we  have  put  wreaths  upon  its  head  and 
sung  its  praises.  Which  was  quite  absurd.  For 
a  man's  intellect  is  a  helpless,  powerless  sort  of 
thing,  a  mere  instrument,  a  tool,  a  subordinate, 
which  the  desires  boss  around.    It  does  the  bidding 


8  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

of  the  desire  that  shouts  the  loudest.  You  may 
call  this  a  libel  on  the  intellect.  You  perhaps 
maintain  the  traditional  view  that  the  intellect 
directs  the  desires. 

But  reflect.  You  engage  daily  in  more  or  less 
unpleasant  tasks  for  eight  hours;  you  work.  It  is 
your  desire  for  bread  and  soup  and  cafe  parfait, 
for  an  overcoat,  an  apartment,  and  theatres  and 
golf,  that  drives  you  there.  You  may  protest  that 
you  enjoy  your  work.  I  shall  not  gainsay  you. 
In  either  case,  it  is  your  desires  that  are  dictating 
your  action.  The  intellect  merely  obeys.  If  it  is 
a  good  intellect,  its  owner  may  count  himself  for- 
tunate. It  will  better  able  to  carry  out  the 
orders  of  its  bo  the  desires;  it  will  satisfy 
them  more,  and  >  will  satisfy  more  of  them. 
The  intellect  may,  and  often  docs,  pick  the  road 
to  a  given  place;  the  desires  always  dictate  the 
designation.  To  multiply  figures,  the  intellect  is 
the  steering  gear,  the  desires  are  the  engine;  the 
intellect  is   the  pilot,   the   desires   are   the   breeze. 

We  are  now  ready  to  return  to  our  immediate 
subject.  When  a  man  is  engaged  in  what  we  call 
making  a  decision,  the  intellect  may  be  thought 
to  occupy  a  place  of  greater  dignity.  It  may  be 
imaged  as   acting   as   a   judge   between   conflicting 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  9 

desires.  But  the  position  of  the  intellect  is  in 
reality  one  of  profound  humiliation.  In  deciding 
between  desires,  it  is  actually  trying  to  make  up 
its  mind  which  desire  is  the  stronger.  It  feels 
their  muscles,  so  to  speak.  And  it  obeys  the 
desire  with  the  hardest  biceps. 

Now  every  decision  is  not  merely  a  selection 
from  among  desires.  One  desire  may  be  so  over- 
powering that  all  others  cringe  before  it;  they 
are  merely  brushed  out  of  the  way.  The  function 
of  the  intellect,  then,  in  making  a  decision,  is  to 
select  from  alternative  courses  the  one  which 
most  promises  to  fulfill  this  supreme  desire. 

I  can  fancy  your  rebelling  al  this  point,  if,  in 
fact,  you  have  not  done  so  lonf  3ago.  "What  you 
say  may  be  all  very  true  about  some  people,"  I 
can  hear,  ^dii  saying,  "but  suppose  I  refuse  to 
allow  my  intellect  to  be  bullied  around  in  this 
shameless  manner?  Suppose  I  choose  to  have  my 
intellect  snap  its  fingers  at  all  my  desires,  and  say 
'Hereafter  /  will  be  master?'  What  becomes  of 
all  your  fine  analysis  then?" 

This  question,  my  dear  sir,  is  not  so  formidable 
as  it  looks.  What  it  would  amount  to,  if  you 
succeeded  in  carrying  out  your  magnificent  defiance, 
or  rather,  if  you  succeeded  in  thinking  you  had, 


10  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

would  be  that  your  desire  (note  the  word)  your 
desire  to  have  your  intellect  master  would  over- 
come other  desires  or  impulses,  recognized  by  your 
intellect  as  such,  which  arose  transiently  from 
moment  to  moment.  You  would  act  only  on  the 
desires  which  your  intellect  happened  to  approve 
of;  but  that  is  merely  another  way  of  saying  that 
your  desire  to  act  on  the  principles  of  common 
sense  had  overcome  all  other  desires. 

For  mark.  There  is  nothing  immoral  in  desires 
per  se.  There  are  good  desires  as  well  as  evil. 
There  are  spiritual  desires  as  well  as  material. 
There  are  desires  to  help  others,  to  spread  cheer- 
fulness, to  protect  one's  health,  to  live  in  modera- 
tion, to  feel  satisfied  with  one's  lot,  to  "succeed'' 
in  life,  to  go  to  Heaven,  to  feel  the  happiness  that 
virtue  gives.  And  these  desires  may  be  just  as 
powerful  as  selfish  desires,  or  as  a  craving  for  tran- 
sient sensual  pleasures.  Bernard  Shaw  says  some- 
where that  real  goodness  is  nothing  but  the  self- 
indulgence  of  a  good  man. 

Unfortunately,  the  word  "desire,''  taken  by  it- 
self, has  come  in  popular  usage  to  have  a  restricted, 
a  sensual,  an  evil  meaning.  Popular  usage  has 
perverted  it  just  as  it  has  perverted  the  word 
"pleasure."    which   arouses    such   endless   confusion 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  11 

of  thought  in  ethical  argument.  I  verily  believe 
that  could  a  man  be  brought  to  think  of  the  word 
"desire"  always  in  its  true  and  broadest  meaning, 
his  aversion  to  the  truth  that  the  desires  over-lord 
the   intellect  would  be  completely  removed. 

For  as  a  fact,  I  have  greatly  understated  the  pre- 
dominance of  the  desires  as  compared  with  the 
intellect.  The  very  existence  of  the  intellect  depends 
up6n  the  desires.  Unless  a  man  have  desires,  he 
will  have  no  intellect.  Or  rather,  he  will  never 
develop  it  and  never  use  it,  which  is  much  the 
same  thing.  Thinking  is  problem  solving.  It 
arises  from  thwarted  purposes.  If  we  have  no 
desires,  we  can  have  no  purposes,  and  hence  noth- 
ing to  thwart.  Thinking  may  arise  as  an  attempt 
to  solve  something  bearing  on  our  immediate  per- 
sonal welfare,  or  on  the  welfare  of  our  family  or 
our  city,  or  on  the  welfare  of  mankind;  it  may 
arise  from  the  love  of  prestige  and  applause  or 
from  sheer  intellectual  curiosity.  In  any  case, 
desire  of  some  kind  is  the  motivating  force. 

A  great  difficulty  yet  remains.  You  may  admit 
that  the  intellect  is  a  servant  and  not  a  master. 
But  not  that  it  is  the  servant  of  your  desires.  "It 
is  the  servant  of  Me,"  you  say.  "It  is  the  servant 
of   My   Will."      These   are   two  •  distinct,   perhaps 


12  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

contradictory,  assertions.  Let  us  consider  the  first. 
Now  let  me  ask.  What  are  you?  You  are  noth- 
ing but  a  total.  Take  away  your  body,  take  away 
your  physical  brain,  take  away  your  intellect,  your 
desires,  your  memory,  your  imagination,  take  away, 
I  say,  all  the  parts  and  attributes  of  you,  and  there 
is  nothing  left.  That  should  be  obvious,  so  obvious 
that  I  almost  blush  to  state  it.  Whenever  you 
speak  of  Me,  or  I,  or  You,  you  are  speaking  now 
of  one  part  or  attribute  of  yourself,  now  of  another. 
You  say,  "I  intend  to  do  so-and-so," — meaning 
that  a  certain  desire  within  you  is  going  to  make  the 
rest  of  you  do  so-and-so.  You  say,  "I  am  run- 
ning,"— meaning  that  your  legs  are  running,  carry- 
ing the  rest  of  your  body  and  your  brain  along 
with  them.  You  say,  "I  am  thinking," — meaning 
that  your  intellect  is  thinking.  Your  knees  aren't 
thinking;  your  feet  aren't  thinking;  your  teeth 
aren't  thinking.  Only  your  intellect.  In  any  case, 
when  you  refer  to  I,  you  are  referring  now  to  one 
part  of  yourself,  now  to  another;  and  yet,  such 
is  the  confusion  of  thought,  that  because  you  give 
the  same  name  now  to  one  part  and  now  to  another, 
you  fancy  that  the  word  "1"  refers  to  som 
distinct  from  any  of  these,  something  in  addition, 
something  separable  from  the  parts  that  comp 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  13 

But  when  you  are  talking  of  "I"  in  the  fore- 
going sense,  you  are  usually  referring  to  your  Will, 
and  it  is  this  conception  that  we  must  now  consider. 
The  brain,  as  previously  intimated,  is  a  receptacle 
full  of  conflicting  desires.  (All  desires  are  not 
ever-present,  but  that  is  not  a  point  we  need  con- 
sider now.)  For  certain  periods — it  may  be  only 
for  a  moment,  perhaps  for  a  day,  possibly  for 
half  a  lifetime — a  certain  desire  will  predominate. 
That  desire,  for  just  as  long  as  it  predominates, 
will  determine  action.  For  as  long  as  it  predom- 
inates and  determines  action,  that  desire  constitutes 
your  will.  It  is  what  you  desire  to  do,  what  you 
want  to  do,  what  you  will  to  do. 

But  one  desire  may  predominate  for  one  hour, 
and  another  the  next.  Just  now  you  may  wish 
to  sit  home  for  the  evening  and  improve  your  mind. 
That  is  your  will.  After  reading  this  a  few 
minutes  you  may  become  bored  (I  am  not  blaming 
you),  and  may  decide  to  call  up  your  friends  and 
play  bridge  for  the  evening.  That  is  also  your 
will. 

And  here  we  come  to  the  great  confusion.  These 
desires,  which  are  constantly  gaining  individual 
supremacy  and  losing  it,  which  are  constantly  over- 
throwing and  dethroning  each  other  like  presidents 


14  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

in  a  South  American  republic,  are  each  of  them 
mere  temporary  holders  of  power.  Yet  we  give 
a  permanent  name  to  them.  We  call  one  desire 
the  will,  and  we  call  the  next  desire  the  will.  And 
so  we  think  that  the  will  is  something  in  addition 
to  these  separate  desires.  If  we  were  to  say  that 
Warren  G.  Harding  kissed  Mrs.  Harding,  and  then 
were  to  add  that  the  President  of  the  United  States 
also  kissed  Mrs.  Harding,  the  confusion  between 
words  and  things  would  be  obvious.  The  President 
of  the  United  States  we  know  to  be  only  another 
name  for  Harding.  It  is  merely  a  permanent  name 
for  the  different  temporary  holders  of  that  power- 
ful office,  all  of  different  natures.  So  with  the 
mind.  The  will  is  merely  a  name  for  the  desire 
that  happens  to  hold  temporary  power.  Take  away 
all  desires,  and  there  remains  no  will. 


Ill 


THE   PRICE  ONE   PAYS 


T  CAN  fancy  that  you  are  becoming  somewhat 
-^  weary.  "What  is  the  sense  of  this  fellow's 
always  harping  on  the  same  thing,"  you  may  say. 
"Here  he  has  been  going  on  for  two  chapters  with 
his  precious  analysis,  repeating  himself,  insisting, 
emphasizing,  underestimating  my  intelligence,  and 
after  I  have  his  point,  and  he  has  made  himself 
clear,  he  keeps  on  talking.  I  picked  up  his  book 
under  the  impression  that  it  might  help  me  to 
acquire  more  will-power,  and  here  he  is  trying  to 
jam  a  psychological  treatise  down  my  throat." 

Now  I  admit  the  seeming  justice  of  this.  But 
my  point  is  vital.  Before  we  can  acquire  will- 
power, we  must  first  of  all  know  what  we  are  talk- 
ing about.  An  amazing  amount  of  cant  and  non- 
sense is  written  about  the  will.  I  have  seen  a  book 
on  Will-Power  so  thick  and  formidable  that  the 
chairs  creaked  when  you  put  it  upon  them,  and  it 
was  vitiated  and  full  of  absurdities  from  the  first 


16  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

page  to  the  last,  simply  because  the  author  had  not 
the  remotest  conception  of  what  the  will  is.  Occa- 
sionally there  was  a  little  sense,  because  occasionally 
the  writer  caught  glimpses  of  the  truth,  as  a  man 
must  in  so  many  pages.  But  we  cannot  afford  to 
catch  only  glimpses.  We  must  know  what  wTe  are 
talking  about  all  the  time,  not  merely  in  moments 
of  absent-mindedness.  My  point,  I  repeat,  is  vital. 
I  am  taking  no  risks  with  it. 

Having  approached  a  true  conception  of  the  will, 
we  are  prepared  to  go  a  step  farther,  and  to  find 
what  we  mean  by  the  phrase  "Will-Power."  This 
is  not  difficult.  It  resolves  itself  into  a  question 
of  time.  When  we  say  a  man  has  will-power,  we 
mean  that  he  has  a  certain  desire  which  persists 
and  predominates  for  a  comparatively  long  period. 
It  is  not  being  constantly  dethroned  by  a  multitude 
of  other  desires.  Either  the  other  desires  are  not 
strong  enough,  or  it  is  too  strong  for  them  (which, 
as  we  shall  see  later,  is  more  than  a  mere  verbal 
distinction)  ;  and  if  perchance  this  desire  is  forced 
to  abdicate  for  a  little  while,  which  may  sometimes 
happen  with  the  strongest-willed  persons,  it  quickly 
throws  out  the  usurping  desire  and  reigns  again. 

This  dominant  desire  is  usually  a  wish  for  some- 
thing remote.     The  man   who  obeys  it  is  setting 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  17 

the  expected  advantage  of  the  future  against  the 
supposed  advantages  of  the  present.  He  will  not 
eat  an  extra  slice  of  that  delicious  pie,  for  he  knows 
that  if  he  did  he  would  two  hours  later  be  suffer- 
ing the  agonies  of  indigestion.  He  will  not  gaze 
at  that  pretty  girl  on  the  subway  seat  opposite,  for 
he  has  embarked  upon  the  noble  enterprise  of  im- 
proving his  mind;  he  has  set  aside  his  trip  to 
work  in  the  mornings  for  concentration  on  some 
serious  subject;  he  will  not  be  distracted.  Or  he 
will  stay  late  at  the  office;  he  will  take  his  work 
home  with  him;  he  will  whip  his  brain  on  when 
it  is  tired;  he  will  shorten  his  holidays,  eliminate 
social  enjoyments  and  endanger  his  health,  for  he 
has  resolved  upon  Success  in  Life. 

Will-Power,  then,  may  be  defined  as  the  ability 
to  keep  a  remote  desire  so  vividly  in  mind  that 
immediate  desires  which  interfere  with  it  are  not 
gratified. 

Understand  me,  I  pass  no  moral  judgment  on 
the  will  per  se.  I  do  not  condemn  it,  neither  do  I 
praise.  It  may  be  evil  as  well  as  good.  A  man 
may  devote  years  to  avenging  himself  upon  another. 
He  may  put  up  with  inconveniences ;  endure  priva- 
tion; submit  to  insults,  humiliation,  and  risks  of 
exposure,  all  of  which  he  could  avoid  if  he  would 


18  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

consent  to  give  up  his  aim.  Napoleon  consecrated 
his  colossal  will  to  the  once  glorious  and  now  dis- 
credited occupation  of  trying  to  conquer  the  world. 

But  will  does  imply  thought  of  the  future. 
It  is  ready,  if  need  be,  to  sacrifice  the  present  to 
the  future.  And  that  is  one  of  the  great  dis- 
tinguishing marks  between  the  civilized  man  and 
the  savage.  The  savage  did  not  save;  he  did  not 
plant  crops;  he  did  not  provide  for  old  age.  He 
did  not  even  set  aside  food  for  the  next  day.  When 
he  got  a  piece  of  meat,  he  gorged  himself,  until 
he  slept.     He  died  3-oung. 

A  firmer  grasp  of  the  true  idea  of  will-power 
is  attainable  if  one  is  acquainted  with  some  of  the 
distinctions  of  political  economy.  The  economist 
differentiates  between  "desire"  and  "demand." 
When  the  layman  talks  of  the  demand  for  auto- 
mobiles, he  thinks  usually  of  the  desire  for  auto- 
mobiles. The  economist  will  not  tolerate  such 
looseness.  A  beggar  may  genuinely  desire  a  Rolls- 
Royce  car,  but  that  does  not  concern  the  manu- 
facturer. It  does  not  constitute  part  of  the  demand 
that  the  manufacturer  must  supply.  He  is  inter- 
ested only  in  the  folk  who  can  afford  to  pay  for 
Rolls-Royce  cars.  And  it  is  not  only  essential 
that  the  people  who  can  afford  a  Rolls-Rovce  shall 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  19 

desire  it,  but  they  must  desire  it  so  much  that  they 
are  willing  to  pay  the  price  for  it. 

Now  we  are  ready  to  apply  this  economic  defini- 
tion to  the  will.  After  nineteen  pages  of  theory, 
exegesis  and  preparation,  we  are  able  to  lay  down 
the  first  rule  for  the  aspirant  for  will-power.  It  is 
a  very  important  rule,  and,  indeed,  possibly  covers 
most  of  the  subject : 

Before  you  make  any  formal  resolution  what- 
soever, make  certain  that  you  genuinely  desire  to 
carry  it  out.  Let  there  be  no  doubt  that  the  end 
you  have  in  view  is  so  desirable  or  advantageous 
that  it  will  outweigh  all  desires  or  advantages  or 
all  other  ends  that  are  likely  to  have  to  be  fore- 
gone or  abandoned  in  order  to  attain  it.  In  short, 
be  sure  you  are  willing  to  pay  the  price. 

This  rule  is  the  corner-stone.  Its  importance 
will  become  more  and  more  appreciated  as  we  go  on. 


IV 


OLD  BOTTLES  FOR  THE  NEW  WINE 

HAVING  made  myself  satisfactorily  clear,  I 
am  now  disposed  to  become  more  amiable 
and  conciliatory.  Having  demolished  (I  hope) 
popular  misconceptions  of  the  will  and  the  intellect 
by  gunpowder  charges  of  the  truth,  and  having 
erected  a  new  edifice  in  place  of  the  old,  vague, 
and  misleading  one,  I  am  willing  to  add  a  few 
bricks  from  the  old  building.  In  short,  I  am  pre- 
pared to  make  concessions.  It  is  probably  quite 
wise  and  helpful  to  do  this,  because  it  causes  less 
confusion  and  less  irritation  to  talk,  wherever 
possible,  in  terms  of  established  conceptions  than 
in  terms  of  conceptions  to  which  the  reader  is 
unaccustomed.  This  is  all  the  more  to  be  desired 
when  the  old  conception  has  some  partial  justifica- 
tion, and  when,  though  loosely  lumping  different 
things  under  one  name,  it  none  the  less,  by  so  doing, 
effects  an  economy  of  thought  and  of  language. 
I  have  said,  for  instance,  that  there  is  no  such 
20 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  21 

thing  as  the  will  considered  as  an  entity,  that  it  is 
simply  a  name  we  give  first  to  one  desire  and  then 
to  another.  But  by  way  of  setting  off  those  desires 
which  we  commonly  call  "the  will"  from  those 
desires  which  "the  will"  opposes,  I  have  said  that 
the  will,  in  general,  represents  desires  for  remote, 
as  opposed  to  immediate,  gratifications.  Yet  we 
may  generalize  still  further.  As  long  as  we  keep 
in  the  background  of  our  minds  that  the  will  is 
really  an  abstraction,  there  is  no  harm  in  speaking 
of  it  a  good  part  of  the  time  as  if  it  were  an 
entity;  and  insofar  as  it  can  be  said  to  represent 
a  definite  and  permanent  entity,  the  will  may  be 
defined  as  our  desire  to  be  a  certain  sort  of 
character.  This  is  still  a  desire,  you  see,  and  it  is 
still  an  abstraction;  for  our  desire  to  be  a  certain 
sort  of  character  may  mean  at  one  moment  a  desire 
to  be  honest,  at  another  moment  a  desire  not  to  get 
drunk,  and  at  still  another  moment  a  desire  to  con- 
centrate on  something. 

When  we  commonly  speak  of  the  will,  and  think 
of  it  as  if  it  were  a  definite  concrete  thing,  it  is  this 
desire  to  be  a  certain  sort  of  character,  I  think, 
that  we  commonly  have  in  mind.  When  popular 
language  says  that  a  man  is  the  slave  of  his  desires, 
it  means  that  he  acts  upon  the  cravings  and  impulses 


22  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

that  from  time  to  time  arise,  though  in  retrospect 
he  will  know  that  such  actions  would  never  be  done 
by  the  kind  of  character  he  wants  to  be.  When 
popular  language  says  that  a  man  is  the  master 
of  his  own  desires,  that  he  holds  them  in  leash 
and  under  his  control,  it  means  that  this  desire  to 
be  a  certain  kind  of  character  is  at  all  times  vivid 
and  powerful  enough  to  be  acted  upon  in  prefer- 
ence to  any  other  fleeting  or  recurrent  desire  that 
may  beckon  him. 

And  it  is,  on  the  whole,  rather  well  that  popular 
language  has  this  conception  imbedded  in  it.  For 
actions  and  decisions  which  would  otherwise  seem 
trivial  are  made  by  it  to  seem  large  and  significant. 
It  may  not  seem  a  matter  of  importance  whether 
you  take  this  particular  drink  or  not,  or  whether 
you  cheat  the  car-conductor  out  of  this  particular 
five-cent  piece.  But  if  you  look  upon  the  non- 
performance of  this  little  act  as  your  ability  to 
refuse  to  yield  to  a  particular  impulse,  and  if  your 
ability  to  refuse  to  yield  to  this  particular  impulse 
becomes  in  your  mind  a  challenge  to  and  a  test  of 
your  entire  character,  you  have  thrown  into  the  scale 
a  mighty  force  to  ensure  your  taking  the  right 
action. 

If  we  accept  the  definition  of  will  as  the  desire 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  23 

to  be  a  certain  kind  of  character,  then  it  can  be 
seen  to  be  a  matter  of  the  highest  importance  just 
what  kind  of  character  you  desire  to  be.  A  man 
may  have  a  strong  will  but  low  ideals,  or  he  may 
have  high  ideals  and  a  weak  will.  A  man  ought 
to  make  two  demands  of  his  ideals :  first  that  they 
be  high  enough,  and  second  that  they  be  his  own. 

If  a  man  really  and  truly  desires  to  be  a  roue  or 
a  pickpocket,  if  this  be  his  ideal,  and  if  his  conduct 
conforms  absolutely  with  his  principles,  there  is 
assuredly  no  fault  to  be  found  with  his  will.  He 
may  firmly  put  aside  all  distractions  and  conquer 
every  good  and  noble  temptation,  in  order  to  be  a 
pickpocket  or  a  roue.  But  society  asks  something 
more  of  him  than  strength  of  will.  It  asks  that 
his  ideals  be  socially  beneficial.  And  even  more 
may  be  required.  It  may  be  asked  that  a  man  put 
his  ideals  so  high  that  it  is  difficult  to  reach  them. 
As  Browning  has  expressed  it,  "A  man's  reach 
should  exceed  his  grasp,  or  what's  a  heaven  for?" 
A  man  with  lenient  and  unexacting  ideals  may  be 
a  tolerable  character;   he  can  never  be  a  great  one. 

The  demand  that  a  man's  ideals  should  be  his 
own  is  one  more  difficult  to  comply  with.  It  means 
he  must  not  accept  his  moral  canons  and  standards 
unquestioningly   from   the  community.      It   means 


24  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

that  he  must  not  be  afraid  of  "not  doing  what 
everybody  else  does"  or  of  "doing  what  nobody 
else  does."  It  means  that  he  must  not  be  a  mere 
mimic  or  a  sheep.  He  must  think  for  himself.  He 
must  examine  for  himself  the  grounds  of  right 
and  wrong,  and  not  let  the  principles  upon  which 
his  life  is  conducted  be  laid  down  for  him  merely 
by  other  people's  opinions.  He  must  not  be  afraid 
of  criticism  if  he  feels  in  his  own  heart  that  he  is 
right.  This  is  an  exacting  ideal.  It  requires  the 
highest  moral  courage. 

A  man  who  lives  up  to  this  ideal  may  be  a 
"dangerous"  character.  But  we  are  not  now  dis- 
cussing ethics,  per  se,  but  only  will-power.  He  is 
the  strong  character,  the  great  character.  He  may 
be  a  Tolstoy  or  a  Nietzsche  or  a  Eugene  Debs ;  but 
he  is  a  law  unto  himself.  We  may  think  his  ethical 
ideas  mistaken,  and  mistaken  they  may  be;  but 
we  cannot  but  admire  the  strength  of  character 
which  leads  him  to  act  them  out  in  spite  of  social 
opposition.  If  the  strength  be  sometimes  mis- 
directed, that  is  unfortunate;  but  the  important 
thing,  from  our  present  standpoint,  is  whether  it 
is  there. 

This  reference  to  "the  strong  character."  recalls 
a  pronouncement  by  John  Stuart  Mill  in  his  essay 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  25 

on  Liberty.  "It  is  not,"  he  says,  "because  men's 
desires  are  strong  that  they  act  ill;  it  is  because 
their  consciences  are  weak." 

This  aphorism  must  first  be  analyzed  in  terms 
of  our  new  conception  of  the  will.  A  man's  "con- 
science" is  simply  that  group  of  desires  to  act 
socially,  usefully,  morally,  conventionally,  to  secure 
the  good  opinion  of  his  fellow  men,  or  not  to  fall 
in  his  own  estimation,  not  to  offend  or  to  give 
anger  or  sorrow  to  his  God,  or  it  may  represent 
his  desire  to  forward  any  other  more  ultimate  end, 
to  which  the  gratification  of  the  immediate  impulse 
or  desire  would  be  opposed. 

If  the  belief  that  Mill  is  contradicting  with  his 
dictum  is  a  half-truth,  so,  too,  is  his  own  state- 
ment. It  is  not  the  "conscience"  in  itself,  nor  the 
"evil"  desires  in  themselves,  that  ultimately  count; 
it  is  the  relation  of  the  one  to  the  other.  The 
stronger  his  desires,  the  stronger  his  conscience, 
or  counter-desires,  must  be ;  the  weaker  his  desires, 
the  less  need  he  has  for  a  strong  conscience. 

But  we  usually,  and  rightly,  regard  the  man  with 
the  stronger  conscience  as  the  stronger  and  more 
admirable  character.  We  admire  far  more  the  man 
who  has  a  violent  craving  for  drink,  but  neverthe- 
less fights  it  down,  than  we  do  the  man  who  refrains 


26  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

from  drinking,  but  has  no  great  liking  for  it  any- 
way. Their  outward  action  may  be  the  same,  so 
far  as  its  effect  on  themselves  or  society  is  con- 
cerned; but  our  untrained  and  unsophisticated 
judgments  are  right  in  attaching  the  importance 
they  do  to  the  inward  struggle.  For  the  weak  man 
who  refrains  from  drinking  may  not  refrain  from 
other  actions  just  as  personally  or  socially  injurious 
that  he  has  a  greater  desire  for;  whereas  the  man 
with  the  stronger  conscience,  who  has  been  able  to 
fight  this  desire  in  this  case,  may  be  depended  upon 
to  fight  lesser  desires  more  easily. 

We  all  know  the  habit  that  many  mothers  have 
of  holding  up  some  little  mollycoddle  as  a  model 
to  their  boy :  "You  never  see  Clarence  do  that !" 
And  we  sympathize  with  the  boy's  contempt :  "Ah, 
him!  He  couldn't  be  bad!"  A  man  who  is  good 
from  docility,  and  not  from  stern  self-control,  has 
no  character. 

Mill  recognizes  this  distinction,  and  in  the  passage 
following  the  sentence  of  his  I  have  quoted,  states 
powerfully  the  case  for  the  man  with  stronger 
impulses :  "There  is  no  natural  connection  between 
strong  impulses  and  a  weak  conscience.  The 
natural  connection  is  the  other  way.  To  say  that 
one  person's  desires  and   feelings  are  stronger  and 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  27 

more  various  than  those  of  another,  is  merely  to 
say  that  he  has  more  of  the  raw  material  of  human 
nature,  and  is  therefore  capable,  perhaps  of  more 
evil,  but  certainly  of  more  good.  Strong  impulses 
are  but  another  name  for  energy.  Energy  may  be 
turned  to  bad  uses;  but  more  good  may  always  be 
made  of  an  energetic  nature,  than  of  an  indolent 
and  impassive  one.  Those  who  have  most  natural 
feeling,  are  always  those  whose  cultivated  feelings 
may  be  made  the  strongest.  The  same  strong  sus- 
ceptibilities which  make  the  personal  impulses  vivid 
and  powerful  are  also  the  source  from  whence  are 
generated  the  most  passionate  love  of  virtue,  and 
the  sternest  self-control," 

I  began  this  chapter  with  one  concession  to  the 
older  and  more  habitual  way  of  looking  at  things, 
and  I  shall  end  it  with  another.  The  first  had  to 
do  with  the  will,  and  this  has  to  do  with  the  intel- 
lect. I  have  said  that  the  intellect  is  a  mere  valet 
to  the  desires,  and  I  have  made  a  good  many  other 
disparaging  remarks  about  it.  But  I  can  fancy  that 
you  were  left  not  only  unconvinced,  but  angry.  I 
can  fancy  someone's'  having  said,  while  reading 
those  remarks  of  mine :  "My  desires  are  determined 
by  my  intellect.    A  man's  desires  are  not  the  desires 


28  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

of  a  rabbit.  I  desire  to  read  Shakespeare  and 
Schopenhauer;  I  actually  prefer  it  to  spending  my 
evenings  in  a  poolroom  or  with  some  pretty  female 
thing.  Has  not  my  intellect  formed  my  desires? 
Has  not  it  dictated  them?  What  sort  of  flapdoodle 
are  you  trying  to  tell  me?*' 

Now  before  such  an  assault  I  am  humble,  and 
retreat  with  a  magnanimous  gesture.  It  is  strictly 
true  that  the  desires  and  the  intellect  cannot  be 
separated.  They  interact.  Our  desires  may  orig- 
inally determine  the  direction  of  our  intellectual 
interests,  but  once  our  intellectual  interests  have 
taken  a  certain  turn,  they  may  awaken  new  desires, 
and  abandon  old  ones.  The  reading  of  Nietzsche 
may  change  a  man's  ideals  and  aims  in  life.  A 
desire  for  a  life  of  study  may  suddenly  turn  into  a 
desire  for  a  life  of  "action." 

We  have  defined  will  as  the  desire  to  become  a 
certain  sort  of  character.  We  have  seen  that,  at 
critical  moments,  when  the  craving  to  do  a  certain 
thing  threatens,  like  a  great  tidal  wave,  to  sweep 
us  helpless  before  it,  it  is  this  desire  to  become  a 
certain  sort  of  character  which  throws  its  weight 
in  the  scale  with  the  other  weaker  desires  to  balance 
us;  it  is  this  desire  which  stands  like  a  rock  to 
cling  to  until  the  torrent  has  spent  its   force.     It, 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  29 

too,  may  be  swept  away  at  times.  But  when  it  is, 
we  know  that  it  has  not  been  strong  enough.  It  is 
a  warning  that  the  breakwater  has  been  too  low 
and  too  weak.  We  must  build  it  higher  and 
stronger.  We  must  strengthen  this  desire  to  be- 
come a  certain  sort  of  character. 

The  ideal  that  we  actually  form  will  depend  upon 
our  parents,  our  religion,  our  associates,  our  read- 
ing, our  thinking,  the  traditions  of  the  nation  and 
the  age  in  which  we  live.  Many  of  these  elements 
are  intellectual,  and  to  the  extent  that  these  deter- 
mine our  ideals,  they  determine  part  of  our  desires. 

But  even  here  we  cannot  say  that  the  intellect 
creates  our  desires.  Rather,  it  transforms  them. 
They  exist  congenitally  in  the  form  of  raw  mate- 
rials; or  more  strictly,  they  exist  as  a  country's 
"natural  resources"  exist,  waiting  to  be  worked  up 
by  our  environment  and  our  intellect  (itself  shaped 
by  environment)  into  the  finished  product.  Prac- 
tically all  men  are  born  with  the  sexual  instinct. 
But  though  this  particular  instinct,  in  its  raw  state, 
may  be  present  in  equal  degrees  in  three  men, 
environment,  training  and  intellect  may  so  shape 
this  raw  material  that  the  first  man  may  elect  to 
marry  and  lead  a  normal  sexual  life,  the  second 
may  launch  forth  as  a  roue,  and  the  third  may  enter 


30  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

and  abide  by  the  vows  of  the  priesthood.  Similarly, 
the  pugnacious  instinct,  which  makes  dogs  fight 
and  men  go  to  war,  may  also,  through  environment 
and  the  intellect,  be  discharged  through  the  channels 
of  football  or  a  philosophical  controversy.  It  is 
the  same  with  gregariousness,  or  any  other  instinct. 
These  are  the  materials;  the  desires  the  finished 
products. 

But  thougn  the  intellect  can  control  the  finished 
product,  it  cannot  control  the  raw  materials.  One 
cannot  lose  an  inborn  instinct  by  thinking;  one 
cannot  create  one  by  thinking.  In  this  respect  the 
intellect  bears  the  same  relation  to  the  instincts  as 
man  bears  to  matter.  He  can  transform  it,  beautify 
it,  give  it  value,  turn  it  to  his  purposes;  but  he 
cannot  create  it  and  he  cannot  destroy  it. 

And,  if  we  are  to  consider  this  question  in  a  truly 
philosophic,  not  to  say  a  metaphysical  manner,  I 
may  as  well  confess  right  here  that  in  talking  of 
"desires"  and  "the  intellect"  I  have  been  doing  a 
somewhat  dubious  thing.  Perhaps  the  more  philo- 
sophic view  is  that  at  times  the  whole  man  desires, 
and  at  times  he  thinks;  but  the  one  process  is  never 
entirely  absent  from  the  other.  When  I  deal  with 
this  process,  I  deal  with  it  rather  crudely,  making 
abstractions,  treating  abstractions  as  entities,  hypo- 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  31 

statizing  them,  making  verbs  into  nouns.  A  man 
desires  something,  and  I  speak  of  "the  desires"; 
he  thinks  something,  and  I  speak  of  "the  intellect." 
In  doing  this,  I  am  merely  following  common 
usage;  and,  indeed,  the  conceptions  imbedded  in 
our  very  language  practically  compel  me  to  adopt 
this  usage  if  I  am  to  prevent  myself  from  becom- 
ing utterly  obscure  and  transcendental.  As  this  is 
supposed  to  be  a  practical  manual,  not  a  philosophic 
treatise,  there  will  be  no  harm  in  continuing  to 
talk  in  terms  of  these  common  conceptions.  But  I 
enter  this  qualification  to  ward  off  irrelevant  attacks. 
I  shall  try  to  change  the  common  conceptions  of 
the  nature  and  relations  of  "the  will"  and  "the 
intellect"  only  insofar  as  I  think  it  needful  to 
change  them  for  practical  purposes. 

And  now,  having  presented  my  apologies  and  con- 
cessions, we  can  have  done  with  this  everlasting 
theorizing,  and  come  to  practical  cases. 


RESOLUTIONS  MADE  AND  RESOLUTIONS  KEPT 

HP  HE  trouble  with  the  average  man  is  not  that  he 
-*-  neglects  to  make  resolutions.  The  trouble  is 
that  he  makes  far  too  many  resolutions.  Making 
resolutions  is  sometimes  his  principal  daily  occu- 
pation. He  is  forever  forgetting  or  breaking 
them,  and  that  is  why  he  has  to  make  them  all 
over  again. 

You,  O  reader,  have  probably  been  through  this 
experience,  so  often  that  you  dislike  to  be  reminded 
of  it.  It  is  probably  your  consciousness  of  past 
events  that  has  tempted  you  to  read  this  book. 
Now  there  is  something  to  be  said  for  you.  You 
realize  your  imperfections.  You  are  splendidly 
dissatisfied  with  your  present  habits,  your  present 
mode  of  living,  your  present  station  in  life.  You 
say  to  yourself,  "This  will  never  do."  You  see 
things  as  they  would  be  if  you  could  get  up  earlier 
in  the  morning,  if  you  could  break  that  absurd 
habit  of  setting  your  alarm  clock  for  seven,  getting 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  33 

up,  shutting  it  off,  going  back  to  bed  with  the 
honest  intention  of  taking  just  a  five  minutes' 
snooze,  and  not  waking  up  until  quarter  to  eight. 
Ridiculous  as  it  is,  the  habit  repeats  itself  morn- 
ing after  morning.  You  jump  with  a  start;  you 
have  a  wild  notion  that  the  alarm  clock  has  played 
a  trick  on  you;  you  dress  in  six  minutes,  shave  in 
four,  bolt  your  breakfast,  make  some  excited,  irri- 
tated, unkind  remarks  to  your  wife,  start  for  the 
station  or  the  street  car  like  a  man  in  a  walking 
race,  break  into  a  run,  curse  the  line  waiting  for 
tickets,  and  when  you  are  finally  aboard  your 
train,  which  trudges  along  and  loiters  around 
stations  as  if  all  eternity  were  before  it,  you  say  to 
yourself,  "This  will  never  do." 

In  that  ride  on  the  train  to  your  office,  you  see 
things  as  they  might  be.  You  see  yourself  getting 
up  at  seven,  dressing  at  your  leisure,  eating  break- 
fast in  an  expansive  mood;  no  friction;  no  irrita- 
tion; no  squabbles  with  friend  wife;  no  dreadful 
fear  that  you  are  going  to  miss  your  train,  or  that 
somebody  will  look  first  at  you,  at  the  clock,  and 
then  at  you  as  you  come  in  the  office.  In  that  ride 
on  the  train  you  have  glimpsed  perfection.  And 
you  make  a  tremendous  resolution.  "This  thing 
has  been  going  on  long  enough.     It's  preposterous. 


34  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

It  has  got  to  stop.     Tomorrow  I  will  get  up  at 
seven." 

And  what  happens?.  Well,  you  arrive  at  the 
office  and  there  are  a  number  of  things  to  occupy 
attention;  your  resolution,  temporarily,  drops  out 
of  mind.  Jones  (my  chief  illustrative  standby) 
wanders  in  and  suggests  his  little  game  of  poker 
that  night.  It  is  conceivable  that  you  are  not 
ashamed  to  protest,  and  that  you  indicate  your  new 
desire  to  keep  early  hours.  Jones  assures  you  it 
won't  be  long;  just  a  hand  or  two.  You  go.  You 
arrive  home  at  1  :30,  having  had,  in  the  main,  an 
evening  not  too  stupid,  but  inwardly  grumbling 
that  you  got  back  so  late,  or  that  somehow  you 
couldn't  have  spent  five  hours  at  Jones's  house  and 
still  have  arrived  home  two  hours  after  you  left 
home.  You  go  to  bed ;  you  sleep  .  .  .  The  alarm 
rings.  Seven  o'clock!  You  get  up,  automatically, 
in  a  daze,  angry  and  resentful  against  the  alarm 
that  you  yourself  have  set.  You  shut  it  off.  You 
turn  back  toward  the  bed,  like  a  marionette,  with- 
out consciousness  of  a  decision  or  of  any  thought 
whatever;  you  retrace  your  steps;  you  are  about 
to  get  into  bed  again;  a  vague  recollection  of  yes- 
terday's resolution  (and  perhaps  also  it  is  the 
resolution  of  the  day  before  yesterday  and  of  the 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  35 

day  before  that)  flits  uneasily  across  your  mind. 
But  you  are  sleepy;  sleep  is  indispensable;  the 
trouble  yesterday  was  not  that  you  went  back  to 
bed,  but  that  you  overslept  when  you  got  there; 
just  a  five  minute  snooze  .  .  .  You  awake.  Ten 
minutes  to  eight!  Impossible!  And  in  the  midst 
of  your  five-minute  dress,  and  your  three-and-a- 
half  minute  shave,  and  your  bolted  breakfast,  you 
still  have  a  corner  of  your  mind  that  is  reflecting 
on'  what  an  ass  you  have  been,  and  making  a 
resolution  that  this  must  be  stopped.  And  so  on, 
as  one  day  follows  another. 

The  example  is  chosen  at  random.  It  is  not  an 
extreme  example.  It  is  not  the  most  powerful  I 
could  have  selected.  But  it  suffices  to  illustrate 
my  point.  The  trouble  is  that  even  in  your 
moments  on  the  train  you  never  sufficiently  con- 
vinced yourself  that  you  really  wanted  to  get  up 
and  stay  up  when  the  alarm  rang.  At  nine  o'clock 
in  the  morning,  on  your  way  to  work,  you  have 
been  thinking  only  of  one  side  of  the  case;  and 
at  seven  o'clock  the  next  morning  you  have  been 
thinking  only  of  the  other  side. 

Understand  me,  I  am  not  saying  that  it  would 
be  to  your  advantage  to  make  that  resolve  on  the 
train.     I  do  not  contend  that  it  would  be  better  to 


36  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

get  up  at  seven  and  take  your  time  than  to  get  up 
at  quarter  to  eight  and  hurry.  You  are  the  judge 
of  that.  I  disclaim  any  moral  attitude  whatever. 
But  I  insist  that  if  you  do  make  a  resolve  it  should 
be  carried  out.  There  should  be  never  an  excep- 
tion. This  point  is  supreme.  To  make  a  resolve 
and  break  it  is  demoralizing.  Though  not  a  single 
other  soul  on  earth  should  know  it,  though  God 
himself  should  not  know,  you  would  know  it. 
Y'ou  would  have  to  confess  your  failure  to  your- 
self. To  break  a  resolve  is  to  undermine  your 
self-respect.  To  break  a  resolve  is  to  lose  faith  in 
yourself.  It  shakes  your  confidence  that  you  can 
keep  any  other.  The  next  time  you  become  sud- 
denly disgusted  with  any  action  or  habit,  and  you 
clench  your  teeth  and  your  left  fist,  and  are  just 
about  to  drive  your  left  fist  into  the  open  palm  of 
your  right,  and  say  to  yourself,  "The  next  time 
I — "  you  are  apt  to  stop  short  and  think  of  your 
previous  failure,  and  the  bitter  irony  of  it  all  may 
rush  over  you.  You  start  at  the  very  beginning 
with  an  unwholesome  doubt  of  whether  you  are 
going  to  keep  your  resolve.  And  when  self- 
respect  and  self-faith  are  gone,  nothing  else  is 
worth  while.  But  with  every  resolution  kept,  be 
it  never  so  small  a  resolution,  your  faith  in  your- 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  37 

self  grows.  The  keeping  of  the  next  resolution 
becomes  tremendously  easier.  Will-power  comes 
into  its  inheritance. 

The  moral  of  all  this  is  that  you  should  make 
fewer  resolutions  and  keep  more.  The  foolish 
resolution  is  the  resolution  made  in  a  moment  of 
passion  and  self-disgust.  It  is  well  that  you 
should  have  such  moments.  It  is  of  such  moments 
that  great  achievements  are  born.  But  before  you 
make  a  resolve  that  you  seriously  mean  to  execute, 
look  at  it  coldly  and  completely.  Think  not  alone 
of  the  benefits  of  keeping  it,  but  of  the  disad- 
vantages. If  you  have  been  lying  in  bed  until 
quarter  to  eight,  you  have  not  been  doing  so  unless 
there  were  some  advantages  in  lying  in  bed  until 
quarter  to  eight.  Consider  these  advantages  in  the 
moment  of  your  resolve.  Do  not  pass  them  over 
in  contempt.  Weigh  them  at  their  full  value. 
Measure  the  sacrifice  of  forsaking  them.  Balance 
it  against  the  advantages  of  getting  up  promptly 
at  seven.  You  may  decide  that  getting  up  promptly 
at  seven  is  not  worth  its  price.  You  may  decide 
to  compromise  on  half  past  seven,  which  would 
allow  you  half  an  hour's  more  sleep  and  a  little 
more  time  to  dress.  Upon  what  you  decide  it  is 
not  for  me  to  comment.    But  your  decision  should 


38  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

be  carried  out.  No  more  demoralizing  course 
could  be  conceived  than  daily  to  resolve  to  arise 
at  seven  and  the  next  day  always  to  wait  until  a 
quarter  to  eight.  Such  a  course  comes  only  be- 
cause, when  you  make  your  resolves,  you  do  not 
fairly  face  the  price. 

This  rule  is  so  important,  and  has  so  wide  a 
bearing,  that  we  cannot  forsake  it  here.  It  applies 
to  all  our  resolves.  Let  me  illustrate  with  the 
example  that  has  become  the  favorite  with  all 
writers  on  will.  I  refer  to  drinking.  The  law- 
makers insist  on  solving  this  particular  will-prob- 
lem for  us,  but  the  Constitutional  Amendment,  so 
far  as  I  am  aware,  puts  no  ban  on  its  invaluable 
use  as  a  literary  example.  Moreover,  I  cannot  be 
arrested  for  pointing  out  that  the  actual  temptations 
to  drinking  are  not  altogether  a  thing  of  the  past. 

You  have  a  drink;  then  another.  Perhaps  you 
have  one  or  two  more,  though  the  count  becomes 
rather  confusing  after  a  time.  The  liquor  "touches 
the  spot,"  as  you  say,  and  for  a  time  it  produces 
a  mental  and  emotional  reaction  that  is  highly 
delightful.  But  the  next  morning  your  stomach  is 
upset;  your  food  doesn't  taste  right:  you  have  a 
headache;  your  mental  and  physical  movements 
are   slow  and  listless;    you  get   little  work  done; 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  39 

the  color  of  the  universe  is  drab.  You  are  prob- 
ably minus  a  good  deal  of  money.  You  feel  your 
self-respect  slipping.  You  are  losing  the  respect 
of  your  friends.  And  your  resolve  that  morning, 
accompanied  with  the  usual  terrible  knitting  of 
brow  and  clenching  of  fist  and  of  teeth  (as  if  that 
helped)  is  that  these  occasions  of  getting  drenched 
must  forever  cease,  end,  terminate. 

And  then  what?  That  acute  psychologist, 
William  James,  can  tell  you  much  better  than  I : 
"How  many  excuses  does  the  drunkard  find  when 
each  new  temptation  comes!  It  is  a  new  brand  of 
liquor  which  the  interests  of  intellectual  culture  in 
such  matters  oblige  him  to  test;  moreover  it  is 
poured  out  and  it  is  sin  to  waste  it;  also  others 
are  drinking  and  it  would  be  churlishness  to  refuse. 
Or  it  is  but  to  enable  him  to  sleep,  or  just  to  get 
through  this  job  of  work;  or  it  isn't  drinking,  it 
is  because  he  feels  so  cold;  or  it  is  Christmas-day; 
or  it  is  a  means  of  stimulating  him  to  make  a  more 
powerful  resolution  in  favor  of  abstinence  than 
any  he  has  hitherto  made;  or  it  is  just  this  once, 
and  one  doesn't  count,  etc.,  etc.,  ad  libitum — it  is, 
in  fact,  anything  you  like  except  being  a  drunkard. 
That  is  the  conception  that  will  not  stay  before 
the  poor  soul's  attention.     But  if  he  once  gets  able 


40  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

to  pick  out  that  way  of  conceiving  from  all  the 
other  possible  ways  of  conceiving  the  various 
opportunities  which  occur,  if  through  thick  and 
thin  he  holds  to  it  that  this  is  being  a  drunkard 
and  nothing  else,  he  is  not  likely  to  remain  one 
long.  The  effort  by  which  he  succeeds  in  keeping 
the  right  name  unwaveringly  present  to  his  mind 
proves  to  be  his  saving  moral  act." 

And  how  is  he  to  get  "able  to  pick  out  that  way 
of  conceiving"  and  hold  to  it?  There  is  only  one 
way.  Not  in  the  moment  of  temptation,  but  in 
the  moment  of  his  resolve,  on  "the  morning  after,'' 
that  is  the  time  for  him  to  summon  all  these 
excuses  before  him,  to  bring  up  every  possible 
excuse,  to  think  of  every  conceivable  advantage 
of  drinking,  and  then  to  ask  himself  whether  they 
are  powerful  enough  to  offset  the  conception  of 
being  a  drunkard,  or  whether  the  advantages  of 
drinking  outweigh  its  disadvantages.  He  must 
give  an  honest  answer  then.  If  he  ignores  these 
excuses,  on  the  ground  that  they  are  unworthy  his 
noble  resolve,  he  will  find  them  dancing  before  his 
eyes  in  the  next  moment  of  temptation;  and  not 
having  faced  and  answered  them  when  he  was  in 
the  mood  to  face  and  answer  them,  he  is  not  likely 
to  face  them  in  that  unhappy  moment. 


VI 


SUCCESS    AND    THE    CAPITAL    S 

Y  COME  now  to  a  question,  always  thought  of 
-"-  consequence,  and  growing  year  by  year  in  the 
prominence  assigned  to  it,  until  with  some  men  it 
has  become  the  sole  pursuit  in  life.  The  present 
age  is  obsessed  with  its  importance  in  a  singular 
degree.  The  American  nation  is  obsessed  with  it 
beyond  all  other  nations.  Books  are  printed  on  it; 
magazines  are  devoted  to  it;  men  learnedly  discuss 
its  "secret."  I  refer,  as  the  reader  has  probably 
divined,  to  the  question  of  Success. 

You  observe  that  I  spell  it  with  the  majuscule. 
The  meaning  of  the  word  thus  spelt  is  at  once 
broader  and  narrower  than  that  of  the  ordinary 
word.  Broader,  because  it  is  taken  to  mean 
success  in  life.  Narrower,  because  it  has  come 
to  imply  a  peculiar  kind  of  success.  It  means  first 
of  all  a  material  success.  It  is  a  synonym  for 
"getting  on."  Where  you  get  to  is  thought  of 
more  consequence  than  what  you  are.     Worship- 


42  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

pers  of  Success  hold  in  contempt  the  man  who  is 
capable  of  enjoying  life  in  obscurity  and  on  $30 
a  week.  They  measure  happiness  externally,  not 
internally;  objectively,  not  subjectively.  Some  (a 
growing  clan)  gauge  success  directly  in  proportion 
to  the  number  of  dollars  on  which  a  man  pays 
income  tax.  Others,  less  narrow,  would  accord  a 
place  to  fame,  which  is  apparently  conceived  not 
so  much  as  having  the  high  estimation  of  one's 
fellows,  as  it  is  having  one's  name  known  among 
a  large  number  of  them. 

Now  implicitly  or  explicitly,  this  kind  of  ex- 
trinsic success  is  taken  by  the  majority  of  persons 
as  the  measure  of  the  intrinsic  worth  of  a  man. 
And  that  is  why  so  many  of  us  pursue  it — not 
for  itself,  not  because  we  personally  would  give  a 
blackberry  for  it,  not  because  it  is  indispensable 
to  our  inmost  happiness,  but  simply  that  we  may 
excite  the  envy  of  others  and  seem  happy  in  their 
eyes.  We  have  a  strange  habit  of  estimating  our 
own  happiness  by  what  other  persons  think  it  is; 
and  their  opinion  is  likely  to  be  based  on  our 
material  success,  since  they  have  little  else  to  go 
by.  We  continually  try  to  obtain  the  things  that 
the  people  around  us  want  or  profess  to  want, 
rather  than  what  we  want   ourselves,  because  we 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  43 

have  never  really  tried  to  examine  whether  there 
is  any  difference  between  the  two.  In  trying  to 
find  whether  we  are  hot  or  cold,  we  attach  more 
importance  to  a  dubious  thermometer  than  we  do 
to  our  own  feelings. 

Now  this  kind  of  success,  which  I  have  gone  so 
far  out  of  my  way  to  become  sarcastic  about,  is 
not  commonly  attainable  without  the  possession  of 
one  characteristic,  a  characteristic  of  far  more  im- 
portance in  this  respect  than  thrift,  intelligence, 
industry  or  common  sense.  That  characteristic  is 
a  passionate  desire  to  succeed,  a  desire  so  strong 
and  overbearing  that  it  amounts  to  a  demand,  and 
that,  in  the  strictly  economic  sense  to  which  I 
have  before  referred,  means  a  willingness  to  pay 
the  price. 

The  price  is  first  of  all  singleness  of  purpose 
and  concentration  of  effort.  Nearly  all  of  us,  at 
school,  have  thought  that  we  should  some  day  like 
to  be  President  of  the  United  States.  But  not  all 
of  us  have  made  it  a  point  to  study  the  lives  of 
past  presidents  to  see  how  they  did  it.  Not  all 
of  us  have  taken  a  law  course  with  that  special 
end.  Not  all  of  us  have  refused  tempting  com- 
mercial opportunities  for  certain  poverty  and 
struggle  for  a  time,  to  gain  an  end  in  which  the 


44  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

mathematical  chances  were  ridiculously  and  over- 
whelmingly against  us.  Not  all  of  us  have  kept 
desperately  fanning  the  embers  of  dissatisfaction, 
fanning  them  into  a  constant  white  hot  flame. 
With  most  of  us  the  early  fire  dies;  the  embers 
fade  and  grow  cool.  We  reach  as  high  a  level  as 
we  ever  seriously  hope  to  reach.  We  have  spasms 
of  dissatisfaction  with  our  position  in  the  world, 
but  not  sufficient  dissatisfaction  to  make  us  work 
our  way  out  of  the  rut  to  a  higher  position.  We 
have  moments  of  longing  for  the  mountain  tops, 
but  not  enough  longing  to  make  us  willing  to  give 
up  something  for  them.  Strolling  in  the  valleys 
is   so   much  more   pleasant  than   climbing. 

And  singleness  of  purpose  demands  more  sac- 
rifices than  mere  industry.  It  involves  giving  up 
all  pleasures  that  interfere  with  it.  They  may  be 
quite  innocent  pleasures,  their  sole  offense  being 
that  they  occupy  time.  It  involves  making  one- 
self narrow;  one  cannot  be  a  success  in  any  one 
line  if  one  dissipates  one's  energies  in  a  number 
of  activities — unless,  of  course,  one  be  a  versatile 
genius  whose  energies  overflow,  like  Benjamin 
Franklin,  Leonardo  da  Vinci,  or  Goethe — and  such 
instances  are  so  rare  that  they  may  be  ignored. 

Let   there   be   no   mistake.      I    do    not    mean    to 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  45 

discourage  efforts  to  become  a  Success.  I  mean 
merely  to  indicate  that  the  goal  has  a  price.  I  want 
you  merely  to  ask  yourself  whether  you  are  willing 
to  pay  that  price;  to  ask  yourself  candidly  how  far 
you  want  to  go  and  how  much  you  are  willing  to 
pay;  for  if  you  do  not  ask  yourself  now,  before 
you  make  your  Success  resolutions,  you  are  likely 
to  ask  yourself  later  on.  As  you  see  obstacles 
and  disappointments  pile  up,  you  are  apt  to  begin 
wondering  whether  the  game  is  worth  the  candle, 
whether  the  colors  of  the  reality  are  as  gorgeous 
as  those  of  the  painting.  And  if  you  decide  to 
give  up  then,  you  will  have  broken  your  early 
resolution,  with  all  the  undermining  of  self-con- 
fidence and  faith  in  your  will  which  that  involves. 


VII 


THE   SCALE   OF    VALUES 


TN  spite  of  the  disclaimer  at  the  end  of  my  last 
-"-  chapter,  I  am  sure  to  be  accused,  because  of  the 
satiric  remarks  preceding  that  disclaimer,  of  dis- 
paraging Ambition,  and  I  may  not  only  be 
denounced  for  this,  but  I  shall  be  told  that  of  all 
places  in  which  to  disparage  Ambition,  a  book  pur- 
porting to  show  the  way  to  will-power  is  the 
strangest  and  most  unforgivable.  But  I  hasten 
again  to  assure  the  reader  that  I  have  not  dis- 
paraged Ambition  at  all;  I  have  only  disparaged 
ambitions.  I  have  merely  intimated  that  many  of 
our  ambitions  are  misdirected.  We  are  wor- 
shipping false  gods.  A  man  in  our  day  who 
laughs  at  the  idea  of  taking  seriously  Zeus  and 
Jupiter  is  not  denounced  as  irreligious;  in  fact, 
he  would  probably  be  called  irreligious  if  he 
did  take  them  seriously.  A  time  will  come,  I 
prophecy,  when  a  man  who  bows  down  before  our 
present  popular  conceptions  of  "success  will  be 
denounced  as  lacking  in  ambition. 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  47 

But  there  is  a  liability  to  misunderstanding  more 
important  than  this.  Many  will  derive  the  idea 
from  some  of  my  past  remarks  that  the  only  thing 
I  regard  of  importance  is  what  a  man  actually  does 
and  does  not  want,  and  that  I  am  not  concerned 
with  what  he  ought  to  want.  This  is  a  misinter- 
pretation which  cannot  be  allowed  to  pass.  I  have 
not  and  I  cannot  dwell  at  length  upon  what  our 
ideals  and  aspirations  ought  to  be;  that  is  a  subject 
for  ethics,  and  I  am  talking  of  will-power.  But 
for  the  sake  of  clarity,  perhaps  it  were  well  that  I 
indicate  my  position  on  this  point. 

We  have  seen  that  every  ambition  has  its  price, 
and  that,  before  launching  yourself  formally  upon 
the  attainment  of  any  ambition,  you  must  first  of 
all  ask  yourself  whether  it  is  worth  its  price.  But 
the  value  of  accomplishing  an  ambition,  or  the 
sacrifice  involved  in  securing  it,  are  not  objective 
things.  They  exist  in  your  own  mind,  and  they 
may  be  changed  in  your  own  mind. 

An  analogy  may  make  this  clearer.  Whether 
or  not  you  decide  to  pay  $100  for  an  overcoat, 
depends  both  upon  the  value  you  attach  to  the 
overcoat  and  the  value  you  attach  to  the  $100. 
The  worth  you  set  upon  the  coat  will  depend  upon 
whether  you  are  without  an  overcoat  altogether, 


48  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

or  whether  the  one  you  have  was  acquired  six 
years  ago,  or  whether  you  just  bought  an  over- 
coat last  week.  The  value  you  attach  to  the  over- 
coat will  also  depend  upon  whether  you  are 
enamored  with  the  style  of  it,  or  whether  you  laugh 
at  the  style  of  it;  and  such  things  depend  quite 
as  much  upon  your  own  tastes  as  they  do  upon  the 
overcoat.  The  value  you  attach  to  the  $100  will 
depend  upon  whether  you  are  earning  $25  a  week 
or  $2,500  a  week.  Finally,  the  value  you  attach 
to  the  $100  and  to  the  overcoat  will  depend  upon 
your  whole  scale  of  values;  your  entire  gamut  of 
tastes  and  likes  and  dislikes ;  upon  how  many  other 
uses  you  can  think  of  for  the  $100,  upon  whether 
you  attach  more  importance,  say,  to  a  $100  set  of 
books;  upon  how  much  importance  you  attach  to 
dress  generally,  and  how  much  to  money  as  a 
whole.  In  short,  the  value  of  a  tangible  object, 
unlike  its  weight,  shape  and  dimensions,  does  not 
inhere  in  the  object  itself;  it  inheres  in  you.  The 
weight  of  a  long  ton  of  coal  will  always  be  exactly 
the  same  as  the  weight  of  a  long  ton  of  bricks;  but 
the  value  of  a  ton  of  coal  will  not  always  be  $15, 
either  to  you  or  to  the  community  as  a  whole. 

Now   what    applies    to    economic   values    applies 
with  equal  force  to  social  and  moral  values   (and 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  49 

I  am  here  speaking  of  these  values  as  they  are, 
not  according  to  any  notions  of  what  they  ought 
to  be).  These,  too,  exist  not  objectively,  in  the 
outward  world,  but  in  your  own  soul.  When  I 
advise  you  first  to  consider  the  price  before  setting 
out  after  any  ambition,  the  decision  you  take  may 
still  differ  from  that  of  jour  neighbor  who  takes 
similar  forethought.  Imagine  two  men,  each  able 
to  forsee  perfectly  all  the  consequences  of  his 
actions,  and  each  trying  to  decide  whether  to  make 
it  his  ambition  to  amass  a  million  dollars.  The 
first  may  enjoy  putting  forth  effort;  he  may  relish 
competition  and  strife;  he  may  be  satisfied  with 
a  narrow  and  exclusive  devotion  to  his  business; 
and  the  attainment  of  a  million  dollars  may  seem 
to  him  an  attainment  glorious  beyond  all  other 
attainments.  It  is  not  difficult  to  see  that  such 
a  man  would  go  ahead  with  the  struggle  for  this 
object.  But  the  second  man,  equally  farsighted, 
may  be  by  nature  more  indolent,  or,  though  pos- 
sessed of  equal  energy,  he  may  have  a  wider  range 
of  interests;  he  may  like  pictures,  music,  litera- 
ture, philosophy,  travel  or  women;  the  ambition 
for  a  million  dollars  may  seem  to  him  a  ridiculous 
and  childish  ambition ;  he  may  feel  that  an  income 
of  $7,500  a  year  suffices  for  all  his  needs.     It  is 


50  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

not  difficult  to  see  that  for  him  the  price  attached 
to  amassing  a  million  dollars  would  seem  prohibi- 
tive, and  the  end  not  worth  the  gaining. 

But  we  must  pass  from  this  consideration  of 
what  men  do  and  do  not  want,  to  the  question  of 
what  they  ought  or  ought  not  to  want.  Of  two 
men,  that  man  who  has  the  more  ambition,  who 
is  prepared  to  make  the  greater  sacrifices,  must 
be  admitted  to  have  the  more  will-power;  but  he 
is  not  necessarily  the  more  admirable  character. 
I  am  all  for  ambition  and  success,  but  what  I 
remonstrate  against  is  the  particular  kind  of  ambi- 
tion and  success  which  is  usually  held  up  to  the 
young  man  of  today  to  emulate.  It  is  usually 
narrow  and  material,  and  nearly  always  selfish.  A 
man  ought  to  set  himself  a  high  goal,  and  he 
ought  to  attach  a  high  value  to  that  goal.  Further, 
he  ought  not  to  attach  too  much  importance  to 
obstacles  and  sacrifices;  he  should  welcome  these 
as  challenges  to  test  his  mettle.  But  the  goal  must 
be  great  enough  to  make  the  obstacles  and  sac- 
rifices worth  while;  and  it  may  be  questioned 
whether  a  purely  material  and  selfish  goal  does 
that. 

What  ought  a  man's  goal  to  be?  Stated  in  the 
most  abstract  terms,   it  ought   to   be    ( beyond   the 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  51 

mere  duty  of  making  himself  happy)  to  increase 
social  well-being,  to  confer  the  greatest  benefits 
he  can  upon  humanity.  But  instead  of  this,  what 
do  nine-tenths  of  the  Success  writers  exhort  us  to 
do?  They  point  to  the  great  material  successes, 
the  men  who  have  gathered  in  more  engraved  paper 
than  other  men,  the  men  who  have  attained  fame; 
and  they  tell  us  to  ape  such  as  these.  It  is  true 
that  a  very  large  number  of  Successful  Men,  in  the 
process  of  attaining  money  and  fame,  have  inci- 
dentally conferred  benefits  upon  mankind.  That  is 
one  of  the  ways  of  acquiring  money  and  fame. 
In  order  to  "get  ahead,"  you  may  work  harder 
than  the  man  at  the  desk  beside  you;  you  may 
study  at  home,  you  may  be  more  efficient,  you  may 
devise  plans  for  saving  the  firm  money;  you  may 
patent  an  invention.  And  by  these  methods, 
adopted  primarily  that  you  yourself  may  get  ahead, 
you  are  adding  to  your  productivity;  you  are 
increasing  the  world's  supply  of  goods  and  serv- 
ices; you  are  conferring  benefits  upon  mankind. 
Though  your  end  is  selfish,  you  are  compelled  to 
help  others  in  order  to  attain  it.  In  order  to  per- 
suade people  to  give  you  a  lot  of  money,  you  are 
obliged  to  confer  equivalent  benefits  upon  them. 
"But  if  the  pursuit  of  what  you  call  material 


52  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

and  narrow  and  selfish  ends  leads  to  all  these  bene- 
ficial results/'  some  one  may  ask,  "what  objection 
can  you  possibly  have  to  them?"  My  objection, 
my  dear  sir,  is  simply  this.  So  long  as  fame  and 
money  are  the  ends  sought,  the  benefits  conferred 
upon  humanity  are  mere  by-products;  whereas,  in 
any  civilization  worthy  of  the  name,  the  ends 
sought  by  individuals  ought  to  be  social  well-being, 
and  fame  and  money  the  by-products.  When 
money  is  the  end  sought,  and  social  well-being 
merely  the  by-product,  we  produce  more  money 
than  we  need  and  not  enough  well-being.  We 
over-eat  and  over-dress  and  turn  out  mountains  of 
silly  luxuries;  we  seek  to  outdo  our  neighbors  in 
material  display;  while  the  enrichment  of  the  mind 
and  the  elevation  of  the  soul  are  ignored,  or  occupy 
us  only  in  moments  when  we  have  nothing  else  to 
do. 

Material  wealth  is  all  very  well  in  its  way ; 
a  certain  amount  of  it  is  an  indispensable  prelim- 
inary to  any  culture  of  the  spirit  whatever :  un- 
less a  man  have  enough  to  eat,  his  brain  will  not 
for  very  long  be  able  to  function.  But  after  we 
have  acquired  enough  wealth  to  live  in  comfort 
(which  does  not  include  silly  competitive  display), 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  53 

we  ought  to  turn  to  higher  and  better  things.  I 
feel  like  shouting:  For  God's  sake,  man,  can't  you 
see  that  the  acquisition  of  wealth  is  a  means  and 
not  an  end? 

It  is  further  and  finally  to  be  said  that  the  man 
whose  sole  ambition  is  to  accumulate  wealth  (and 
even  to  do  so  honestly),  must  give  people  what 
they  want  and  not  necessarily  what  is  good  for  them. 
A  theatrical  manager  can  gather  a  fortune  by  stag- 
ing salacious  plays.  There  is  a  moving  picture  actor 
with  an  irresistibly  funny  way  of  wiggling  his  feet. 
He  acquires  hundreds  of  thousands  of  dollars  a 
year  for  making  people  laugh;  while  college  pro- 
fessors starve  for  trying  to  make  people  think. 

Yet  after  all  this,  there  is  something  to  be  said 
for  the  ordinary  selfish  ambition.  It  is  vastly 
better  than  no  ambition  at  all.  Though  the  benefits 
it  confers  on  others  may  be  incidental,  it  does  confer 
them;  and  those  benefits,  even  if  they  are  usually 
material,  are  often  vast.  The  world  would  be  a 
very  meagre  place  if  we  lost  our  selfish  ambitions 
without  acquiring  altruistic  ambitions  in  their  stead. 
And  from  the  standpoint  of  will-power,  which  is, 
after  all,  our  present  subject,  there  is  a  very  great 
deal  to  be  said  for  selfish  ambitions.     Huxley,  in 


54  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

his  lecture  on  Scientific  Education,  happens  to  have 
said  this  so  well  that  I  cannot  do  better  than  quote 
his  words : 

"I  do  not  wish  it  to  be  supposed  that,  because  I 
happen  to  be  devoted  to  more  or  less  abstract  and 
'unpractical'  pursuits,  I  am  insensible  to  the  weight 
which  ought  to  be  attached  to  that  which  has  been 
said  to  be  the  English  conception  of  Paradise; 
namely,  'getting  on.'  I  look  upon  it  that  'getting 
on'  is  a  very  important  matter  indeed.  I  do  not 
mean  merely  for  the  sake  of  the  coarse  and  tangible 
results  of  success,  but  because  humanity  is  so  con- 
stituted that  a  vast  number  of  us  would  never  be 
impelled  to  those  stretches  of  exertion  which  make 
us  wiser  and  more  capable  men,  if  it  were  not  for 
the  absolute  necessity  of  putting  on  our  faculties 
all  the  strain  they  will  bear,  for  the  purpose  of 
'getting  on'  in  the  most  practical  sense." 


VIII 

CONTROLLING  ONE'S  THOUGHTS 

AFTER  this  ethical  interlude  on  life's  ideals, 
perhaps  we  had  better  take  our  bearings  again. 
We  have  seen  that  whatever  our  ideals,  whatever 
our  resolutions,  we  should,  before  adopting  those 
resolutions,  calmly  and  coldly  count  the  price  of 
carrying  them  out.  That  was  our  first  rule  of 
will-power. 

Now  the  second  rule  follows  naturally  from  the 
first.  Once  you  have  made  your  decision,  having 
coldly  decided  that  that  is  what  you  want  and  that 
you  are  willing  to  pay  the  price,  your  decision  is 
forever  beyond  dispute.  You  should  never  ask 
yourself  again  whether  the  other  course  is  possible; 
whether  it  is  really  worth  while  staying  home  to 
study  for  a  specified  number  of  evenings  each  week ; 
whether  a  man  who  has  resolved  to  stop  drinking 
can  really  do  so  suddenly  without  blowing  to  pieces ; 
whether  smoking  is  really  as  harmful  as  you  had 
thought  it  was ;  whether  a  man  in  a  moderate  posi- 
es 


56  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-FOWER 

tion,  without  so  many  responsibilities  and  burdens 
on  his  shoulders,  doesn't  really  get  just  as  much 
enjoyment  out  of  life  as  the  Success.  Those  ques- 
tions are  forever  closed:  you  have  asked  them 
before  and  have  decided  them.  You  will  know  that 
thoughts  determine  action,  and  to  control  your 
actions  you  will  begin  by  controlling  your  thought. 
You  will  vivify  all  the  advantages  that  will  come 
from  carrying  out  your  resolution.  You  will  paint 
them  in  glowing  colors.  You  will  dwell  on  them 
constantly.  The  disadvantages  you  will  ignore. 
They  are  disadvantages  only  to  fools :  a  wise  man 
does  not  think  them  so. 

Here  I  need  to  give  a  warning.  Concentrate  on 
the  positive  side ;  avoid  the  negative.  That  is,  dwell 
on  the  benefits  of  carrying  your  resolve  out,  not  on 
the  evils  of  failing.  If  you  would  fight  a  craving 
for  morphine,  do  not  let  your  imagination  revel  in 
the  picture  of  the  ashen-faced,  palsied,  loathsome 
and  pitiable  creature  you  would  be  as  a  morphine 
fiend.  Picture  the  upstanding,  energetic,  healthy- 
complexioned,  respect-compelling  man  you  are  going 
to  be  if  you  refuse  it. 

A  morbid,  terrible  picture  is  a  mind-filling 
picture;  it  exerts  a  strange  fascination.  If  a 
thought  once  sufficiently  fills  the  mind,  be  it  never 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  57 

so  terrible,  unreasonable  or  self-destructive,  it  will 
be  acted  upon.  I  need  merely  cite  the  familiar 
experience  of  dizziness  when  looking  over  a  preci- 
pice or  a  high  building,  or  even  a  low  building  if 
there  be  no  rail  around.  The  height  from  sea-level 
has  nothing  to  do  with  it;  and  the  height  of  the 
potential  fall  is  less  important  than  the  actual  danger 
of  falling.  You  grow  dizzy  because  you  think  of 
what  would  happen  to  you  if  you  lost  your  balance 
and  fell,  or  even  if  you  were  to  throw  yourself  off. 
The  higher  the  roof  or  precipice  the  more  fascinat- 
ing does  this  idea  become;  hence  the  greater  the 
dizziness.  It  is  the  very  terror  of  the  thought,  the 
reality  of  the  fear  that  you  are  going  to  act  upon 
it,  that  makes  you  dizzy.  If  you  could  get  com- 
pletely rid  of  the  idea,  you  would  completely  lose 
the  dizziness.  I  knew  a  man  living  in  Buffalo  who 
did  not  dare  to  visit  Niagara  Falls,  lest  he  should 
throw  himself  into  the  magnificent  rapids  just  above 
them.    There  are  doubtless  many  like  him. 

Fill  the  mind  with  the  positive  idea  of  your 
resolve,  and  you  will  carry  it  out. 

Some  readers  will  have  recognized  an  affinity 
between  this  rule  and  the  doctrine  known  as  "sug- 
gestion." Little  is  yet  known  of  suggestion,  but 
enough   is    known    for    scientific   men    to    become 


58  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

assured  that  it  is  no  mere  superstition;  practising 
physicians  recognize  its  great  value.  One  writer, 
T.  Sharper  Knowlson,  convinced  of  the  theory,  has 
made  some  pointed  remarks  on  the  subject:  "We 
have  not  to  aim  at  a  strong  will,  and  wait  until  it 
'comes.'  Act  as  if  it  had  already  come  .  .  .  The 
man  who  feels  he  cannot  pass  a  public  house  with- 
out an  irresistible  temptation  to  enter  and  drink  to 
excess,  must  tell  himself  he  can,  and  proceed  to  walk 
past  the  place  of  temptation."  He  suggests  a  method 
for  combatting  insomnia.  One  should  say  to  one- 
self, "I  sleep,  I  sleep,"  repeating  these  words  until 
a  state  of  drowsiness  is  induced.  "It  is  wrong  to 
say,  'I  shall  sleep,'  because  that  implies  desire,  and 
hence  a  possibility  of  non-fulfillment.  Suggestion 
works  by  affirmation,  not  by  promise." 

My  next  piece  of  advice  is  this :  Never  defy 
temptation — evade  it. 

You  may  look  upon  this  advice  as  inconsistent 
with  the  above  quotation.  You  may  dismiss  it  as 
unworthy.  I  maintain  that  it  is  prudent.  For  urg- 
ing it  I  have  the  strongest  psychologic  grounds. 

In  one  of  his  studies  in  pessimism,  Schopenhauer 
makes  a  remark  to  the  effect  that  man  has  thousands 
of  desires,  and  as  at  any  moment  not  more  than  a 
few   of   them    are    fulfilled,    man's    existence   must 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  59 

necessarily  always  be  miserable.  Schopenhauer 
could  only  arrive  at  a  conclusion  so  opposed  to 
common  sense  because  his  psychology  was  defective. 
Desires  are  not  ever-present.  Desires  are  like 
thoughts — they  are  thoughts — that  come  and  go. 
They  are  aroused  by  association  and  suggestion, 
and  less  apt  to  appear  when  there  is  no  association 
or  suggestion  to  call  them  up. 

I  walk  along  the  street.  I  am,  so  far  as  I  am 
consciously  aware,  content ;  which  is  the  same  thing 
as  being  so.  But  I  pass  a  fruit-stand;  I  espy  some 
delicious  peaches,  and  there  is  immediately  aroused 
the  desire  for  peaches.  The  absence  of  the  fruit 
then  produces  in  me  a  maw,  which  must  be  filled. 
When  I  watch  an  exhibition  tennis  match,  my  desire 
to  become  a  marvellous  player  is  intense.  When  I 
go  to  a  skating  rink,  I  attach  great  value  to  the 
personal  achievement  of  expert  skating.  When  I 
read  a  book  on  the  history  of  metaphysics,  I  desire 
to  become  a  great  philosopher.  When  I  listen  to 
speeches  in  the  midst  of  a  presidential  campaign,  I 
fancy  that  the  one  thing  worth  while  is  to  become 
an  eminent  statesman.  Between  campaigns,  this 
ambition  falls  into  the  background.  If  I  have  not 
been  skating  for  a  long  time,  my  desire  for  preem- 
inence in  it  fades. 


60  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

The  moral  of  all  this,  on  its  positive  side,  is  to 
cultivate  most  your  desires  for  those  activities  which 
will  best  forward  your  final  purposes — those  pur- 
poses which  you  have  calmly,  deliberately  and  fully 
reasoned  out.  On  the  negative  side,  the  moral  is  to 
avoid  all  associations,  suggestions,  lines  of  thought, 
which  arouse  desires  that  interfere  with  your  final 
purposes,  that  is  to  say,  desires  that  you  have 
resolved  against. 

The  drunkard  often  has  little  difficulty  in  keep- 
ing straight  until  he  sees  liquor;  even  then  he  is 
better  able  to  resist  than  after  he  has  scented  or 
tasted  liquor.  If  you  have  resolved  forever  to  cease 
drinking,  do  not,  to  show  the  strength  of  your  de- 
termination, as  people  do  in  motion  picture  dramas, 
put  the  red  glass  to  your  lips  and  then  set  it  down. 
Putting  the  glass  to  your  lips  is  liable  to  be  your 
undoing.  Do  not  raise  the  glass.  Do  not  order 
the  drink.  Do  not  enter  the  saloon.  If  the  saloon 
is  directly  in  line  on  your  way  home,  and  habit  has 
dictated  your  entrance,  walk  a  block  out  of  the 
way  if  necessary. 

Mr.  Knowlson  says  that  you  should  tell  your- 
self you  can  walk  past,  and  then  do  it.  That  is 
all  very  well  for  the  later  stages,  but  I  fancy  you 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  61 

will  find  that  suggestion  and  self-faith  have  their 
greatest  value  when  not  over-strained.  You  can- 
not lift  a  500-pound  weight  at  arm's  length  by  tell- 
ing yourself  you  can.  But  by  gradual  exercises, 
adding  a  little  bit  each  week,  a  man  may  develop  a 
physique  which  may  enable  him  to  accomplish 
marvels  he  never  dreamed  of  before.  And  the  will 
is  just  like  that.     It  must  be  developed  slowly. 

This  is  not  my  discovery.  Bacon  discovered  it 
some  three  centuries  ago,  and  though  his  language 
is  somewhat  antiquated,  his  wisdom  is  as  wise  to- 
day as  on  the  day  it  was  written :  "He  that  seeketh 
victory  over  his  nature,  let  him  not  set  himself  too 
great  nor  too  small  tasks;  for  the  first  will  make 
him  dejected  by  often  failings,  and  the  second  will 
make  him  a  small  proceeder,  though  by  often  pre- 
vailings.  And,  at  the  first,  let  him  practise  with 
helps,  as  swimmers  do  with  bladders,  or  rushes; 
but  after  a  time  let  him  practise  with  disadvantages, 
as  dancers  do  with  thick  shoes;  for  it  breeds  great 
perfection  if  the  practice  be  harder  than  the  use." 

Therefore  it  is  better  to  walk  around  the  block 
a  while,  if  you  must,  before  going  past.  Then  you 
may  have  faith ;  and  your  faith  will  be  strengthened 
by  the  modest  record  of  avoidance  behind  you. 


62  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

This  alcoholic  illustration,  as  I  have  indicated 
before,  may  be  legally  obsolete;  but  it  is  sufficient 
to  indicate  to  a  reader  fertile  in  ideas  the  applica- 
tion of  the  principle  to  any  other  instance. 


IX 


THE  OMNIPRESENCE  OF  HABIT 

npHUS  far  I  have  spoken  as  if  desires  (and  fears 
■*-  and  aversions)  were  the  sole  determinants  of 
action.  We  come  now  to  something  quite  as  impor- 
tant, if,  indeed,  it  is  not  more  important  than  these. 
While  it  is  often  determined  by  them,  it  sometimes 
determines  them,  and  it  often  guides  action  with  no 
relation  to  desires  whatever.  From  the  title  of  this 
chapter,  the  astute  reader  will  have  already  surmised 
what  I  am  talking  about. 

We  may  best  approach  the  phenomenon  of  habit 
by  going  outside  of  the  individual  and  his  brain. 
Habit  applies  to  the  inanimate  no  less  than  to  the 
animate  world.  Fold  a  napkin  in  a  particular  way 
and  it  is  more  easy  to  fold  that  way  the  next  time. 
The  creases  in  a  sheet  of  wrapping  paper  become 
indelible.  An  automobile  engine  runs  more 
smoothly  after  it  has  been  "worked  in,"  and  the 
friction  edges  worn  down.  The  very  clothes  on 
your  back  form  habits:     they  fit  you  better  after 


64  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

you  have  worn  them  for  some  time  than  when  they 
are  new ;  they  drape  more  snugly  to  the  form.  The 
notorious  difference  in  comfort  between  old  and 
new  shoes  is  possible  because  the  old  shoes  have 
been  worked  into  certain  feet-conforming  habits. 
A  path  across  a  field,  be  it  never  so  winding,  be- 
comes beaten  more  and  more,  becomes  more  dis- 
tinct and  unalterable.  That  is  because  it  becomes 
more  and  more  the  path  of  least  resistance.  And 
the  tendency  of  all  bodies  and  forces,  animate  and 
inanimate,  to  follow  the  path  of  least  resistance, 
is  the  secret  of  the  formation  of  habit. 

You  assert  that  the  field  path  is  formed  by 
human  beings,  creatures  of  habit,  the  beaten  path, 
and  of  ruts.  I  answer  by  the  illustration  of  a 
river  bed,  which  the  water  follows,  though  the  bed 
twist  and  turn  and  wind.  Originally  it  was  formed 
by  sheer  accident,  as  the  water,  beginning  as  a 
spring  on  a  hill  or  mountain  top,  bubbled  up,  made 
its  way  around  this  rock  and  over  that,  split  here, 
joined  there,  washing  away  the  gravel  as  it  went, 
digging  ^s  bed  deeper  and  deeper,  more  firm  and 
more  unchangeable,  till  at  last  it  flowed  in  a  full, 
deep,  untroubled  current.  You  have  doubtless  seen 
the  bed  of  a  spring  or  brook  dried  up  at  certain 
seasons  of  the  year.     The  definition  of  a  brook  is 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  65 

a  body  of  water;  yet  you  know,  though  there  is  no 
water  here,  that  this  is  indeed  the  brook,  for  this 
is  the  path  the  water  will  take  when  it  flows  again. 
The  dried-up  brook-bed  represents  what  a  habit  is 
like  in  the  brain  when  you  are  not  acting  upon  it. 

A  more  familiar  comparison  to  those  who  live  in 
the  world  created  by  man  and  not  by  nature  is  the 
groove  in  a  phonograph  record — silent  in  itself, 
but  always  ready  to  produce  a  tune,  and  always  the 
same  tune,  when  it  is  put  on;  that  is  to  say,  when 
the  circumstances  call  it  forth. 

The  omnipresence  of  habit  is  almost  terrifying 
when  one  reflects  upon  it.  From  the  minute  a 
man  shuts  off  his  alarm  clock  on  one  morning,  till 
the  minute  he  shuts  it  off  on  the  next  morning,  it 
controls  him.  It  dictates  and  makes  possible  nine- 
tenths  of  his  actions.  Amd  nine-tenths  of  the  habits 
of  most  men  are  formed  unconsciously.  It  is 
astounding  that  men  should  so  leave  this  thing  to 
chance,  when  it  determines  the  very  texture  of  their 
lives ;  yet  the  fact  must  be  recorded. 

A  man  gets  up  at  eight  because  it  is  his  habit  to 
get  up  at  eight,  though  he  has  set  his  alarm  and 
his  intentions  to  arise  at  half-past  seven.  If  it  is 
his  habit  in  a  vacant  way  to  contemplate  getting  up 
for  fifteen  minutes  before  he  actually  does  get  up, 


66  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

that  he  will  do  every  morning.  .When  he  actually 
gets  up,  habit  dictates  which  sock  shall  go  on  first, 
whether  shirt  or  trousers  shall  go  on  first,  whether 
collar  or  shoes  shall  take  precedence,  which  shoe 
shall  be  put  on  before  the  other,  whether  he  begins 
buttoning  his  vest  from  the  bottom  or  from  the 
top. 

At  this  very  private  stage  of  his  toilet  we  shall 
leave  him  a  moment  for  a  digression.  This  digres- 
sion is  needed  to  point  out  that  habit  is  not  always 
evil.  The  same  confusion  of  thought  exists  in  re- 
gard to  habit,  and  about  being  a  "slave  to  habit," 
that  clusters  around  the  word  "desire."  Most  of 
the  average  man's  habits  are  not  only  good  but  in- 
dispensable. Habit  may  be  formally  defined  as  an 
aptitude  or  inclination  for  some  action,  acquired  by 
frequent  repetition,  and  showing  itself  in  increased 
facility  of  performance  or  in  decreased  power  of 
resistance.  Less  correctly  but  more  practically,  I 
should  define  habit  as  the  doing  of  a  thing  without 
conscious  attention  and  often  without  thought  of 
the  purpose  of  doing  it.  Most  men  cannot  tell  you 
how  they  dress,  which  shoe  they  put  on  first,  or 
whether  they  button  their  vests  from  the  top  or 
bottom,  until  they  first  mentally  rehearse  the  action 
or  even  until  they  actually  do  it. 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  67 

As  to  the  great  blessings  of  habit,  Dr.  Maudsley 
says:  "If  an  act  became  no  easier  after  being  done 
several  times,  if  the  careful  direction  of  conscious- 
ness were  necessary  to  its  accomplishment  on  each 
occasion,  it  is  evident  that  the  whole  activity  of  a 
lifetime  might  be  confined  to  one  or  two  deeds — 
that  no  progress  could  take  place  in  development. 
A  man  might  be  occupied  all  day  in  dressing  and 
undressing  himself;  the  attitude  of  his  body  would 
absorb  all  his  attention  and  energy;  the  washing 
of  his  hands  or  the  fastening  of  a  button  would  be 
as  difficult  to  him  on  each  occasion  as  to  the  child 
on  its  first  trial;  and  he  would,  furthermore,  be 
completely  exhausted  by  his  exertions.  Think  of 
the  pains  necessary  to  teach  a  child  to  stand,  of  the 
many  efforts  which  it  must  make,  and  of  the  ease 
with  which  it  at  last  stands,  unconscious  of  any 
effort." 

Returning  now  to  our  typical  man  and  his  morn- 
ing toilet,  we  follow  him  downstairs  to  his  break- 
fast. Habit  dictates  what  he  eats,  whether  his 
breakfast  is  light  or  heavy,  whether  he  takes  a 
cereal  or  not,  whether  his  fried  egg$  are  turned  or 
not.  Habit  has  already  dictated  what  time  he 
usually  arrives  at  breakfast;  it  must,  therefore, 
inevitably  dictate  whether  he  shall  bolt  his  breakfast 


68  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

or  take  it  leisurely.  Habit  dictates  whether  he 
props  his  paper  in  front  of  him  at  breakfast  or 
whether  he  waits  until  he  boards  his  train.  Habit 
dictates  his  table  manners.  Habit  dictates  his  tone 
of  voice  to  his  wife.  If  he  boards  a  train,  habit 
dictates  whether  he  shall  get  on  the  rear  car  or  the 
second  car  from  the  front.  Arrived  at  his  office, 
habit  dictates  the  manner  in  which  he  approaches 
his  work,  the  way  he  handles  interviews,  his  pro- 
fessional mannerisms,  his  tricks  of  gesture,  his 
choice  of  words,  his  very  manner  of  thinking  and 
way  of  looking  at  things.  Habit  dictates  the  time 
he  goes  out  to  lunch,  and  the  place  to  which  he 
goes.  Many  a  man  with  a  special  luncheon  en- 
gagement at  an  unhabitual  place  has  suddenly 
checked  himself  to  remember  it,  after  finding  that 
his  feet  had  mysteriously  carried  him  right  up  to 
the  very  door  of  his  customary  restaurant! 

Finally,  when  he  has  returned  home  and  taken  his 
dinner,  habit  dictates  how  he  shall  spend  the  evening. 
If  he  is  in  the  habit  of  going  out  every  night,  he 
will  feel  restless  and  uncomfortable  staying  in.  He 
will  go  out  not  for  enjoyment,  but  because  he  knows 
not  what  else  to  do.  He  knows  merely  that  the 
thought  of  staying  home  is  intolerable.  His  so- 
called    pleasures,    far    from    spontaneous,    fall    into 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  69 

certain  conventionalized  and  accepted  activities, 
which  may  be  called  social  habits,  habits  possessed 
by  the  community  at  large.  They  will  differ  be- 
tween one  country  and  another,  between  one  town 
in  the  same  country  and  another.  Our  man  will 
find  himself  for  a  period  going  frequently  out  to 
play  poker;  then  for  another  period  he  will  find  his 
most  frequent  diversion  will  be  going  to  dances; 
for  a  while  it  will  be  going  to  the  theatre  or  the 
"movies";  for  another  period  it  may  be  bowling; 
then  it  will  be  staying  at  home  to  read.  Such 
habits  change  with  seasons,  by  sheer  accident,  and 
in  different  periods  of  life.  The  evenings  of  some 
men  are  as  much  a  burden  to  them  as  their  business 
day.  Their  evening's  outing  is  as  much  a  duty  as 
earning  their  bread  and  cheese.  As  they  dress  to 
go  out,  they  sigh.  They  are  about  to  embark  on 
one  of  the  accredited  methods  of  "having  a  good 
time";  it  often  does  not  occur  to  them  to  ask 
whether  they  are  actually  having  it.  They  vaguely 
regard  going  out  as  a  sort  of  necessity,  like  Fate. 
They  are  indeed  slaves  of  habit. 

But  our  man's  day  is  not  ended.  He  returns 
home.  Habit  dictates  the  hour  at  which  he  re- 
tires, even  though  he  has  made  a  thousand  resolu- 
tions, night  after  night,  that  he  shall  hereafter  re- 


70  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

tire  an  hour  earlier.  In  fact,  the  nightly  resolu- 
tion itself  may  be  a  habit.  The  resolution  is  usu- 
ally made  in  the  morning;  for  an  outside  influence 
(his  employer  or  the  relentless  call  of  business)  has 
pretty  definitely  fixed  the  hour  at  which  he  must 
arise.  His  manner  of  undressing  is  as  definitely 
fixed  as  his  manner  of  dressing.  He  puts  out  the 
light,  opens  the  window  and  goes  to  bed.  Habit 
dictates  the  position  he  assumes  in  bed,  and  perhaps 
how  deeply  he  sleeps  or  fails  to  sleep 

We  have  pursued  our  typical  man  enough,  and 
we  leave  him.  There  are  worse  than  he.  Absent- 
minded  persons,  not  accustomed  to  changing  their 
dress  to  go  out  of  an  evening,  and  intending  only  to 
take  off  a  few  articles,  have  found  themselves  get- 
ting completely  undressed,  and  proceeding  to  go  to 
bed. 

You  who  laugh  irreverently  at  this,  who  boast 
that  you  are  free  from  unthinking  habit,  and  that 
you  act  only  with  thought,  kindly  make  this  experi- 
ment. Perhaps  you  carry  your  watch  in  your  lower 
right-hand  vest  pocket,  the  chain  across  your  vest, 
your  keys  or  knife  or  ornament  in  the  other  pocket 
on  the  end  of  the  chain.  Reverse  it;  put  your 
watch  in  your  lower  left-hand  pocket.  Now,  with- 
out making  any  special  effort  either  to  forget  or  to 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  71 

remember  that  you  have  shifted  your  watch,  wait 
until  an  unplanned  occasion  to  use  it  arises,  and  see 
how  many  times  you  reach  in  your  right-hand 
pocket  for  it  and  pull  out  the  other  end  of  the  chain 
before  finally  a  new  habit  is  formed.  Or  put  your 
watch  in  your  upper  pocket,  and  see  how  many  times 
you  reach  for  your  lower  pocket  and  think  frantic- 
ally for  a  moment  that  your  watch  is  gone.  Or 
shift  your  silver  change  from  your  trousers  to 
your  coat  pocket,  or  from  your  right  to  your  left, 
and  see  how  many  times  the  wrong  hand  dives  into 
the  wrong  place ! 

Habit  makes  possible  the  acquisition  of  all  skilled 
movement.  The  practice  that  makes  perfect,  the 
practice  at  swimming,  tennis,  skating,  dancing, 
bowling,  juggling,  automobile  driving  and  stunting 
with  an  airplane,  is  nothing  more  and  nothing  less 
than  the  formation  of  habit.  I  have  learned  to 
operate  a  typewriter  by  touch.  As  I  write  these 
words,  I  do  not  have  to  pick  out  the  letters  on  the 
keyboard.  I  do  not  look  at  the  keyboard.  I  do 
not  even  think  of  the  letters.  I  think  only  of  what 
I  am  going  to  say;  I  watch  the  words  on  the  paper 
as  they  marvellously  form;  and  my  fingers,  with- 
out attention  from  me,  are  mysteriously  finding 
their  way    with   lightning    rapidity   to   the   proper 


72  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

keys.  Habit!  And  if  I  should  start  to  think  con- 
sciously of  my  fingers  or  the  keys,  I  should  begin 
to  make  mistakes  and  my  speed  would  slow  up. 

If  you  are  still  not  sufficiently  impressed  with 
the  importance  of  habit,  let  me  quote  to  you  the 
words,  not  of  a  moralist  given  to  sermonizing,  but 
the  dry  scientific  statement  of  fact  by  a  psycholo- 
gist, W.  B.  Pillsbury: 

"The  useful  man  is  for  the  greater  part  marked 
off  from  the  useless  and  the  vicious  by  the  nature 
of  his  habits.  Industry  or  indolence,  good  temper 
or  bad  temper,  even  virtue  or  vice,  are  in  the  last 
analysis  largely  matters  of  habit.  One  forms  the 
habit  of  working  at  certain  times  of  the  day,  and 
soon  if  one  is  not  busy  at  that  time  one  experiences 
a  lively  sense  of  discomfort.  Or,  on  the  contrary, 
one  forms  the  habit  of  loafing  all  day.  Work  then 
becomes  distasteful  and  indolent  irresponsibility  is 
established.  Losing  one's  temper  is  largely  a  habit, 
as  is  self-control.  Each  time  one  is  provoked  by 
a  trifle,  it  becomes  the  more  difficult  to  look  calmly 
at  an  unpleasant  episode;  while  each  time  one  re- 
mains calm  under  difficult  circumstances,  strength 
is  gained  for  later  difficulties.  Similarly,  whenever 
temptation  is  resisted,  virtue  gains  a  victory;  when 
temptation  is  yielded  to,  new  weaknesses  develop. 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  73 

Frequent  yielding  makes  resistance  practically  im- 
possible. A  bank  president  of  established  morals 
could  no  more  step  out  and  pick  a  pocket  that  was 
temptingly  unprotected  than  he  could  fly.  The 
habitual  drunkard  can  no  more  resist  the  invitation 
to  have  a  glass  than  he  can  resist  the  action  of  gravi- 
tation while  falling  freely  through  space.  Frequent 
giving  in  has  entirely  destroyed  his  original  free- 
dom of  choice." 


THE    ALTERATION    OF    HABIT 

HABIT  being  of  such  enormous  importance,  it 
is  our  urgent  duty  to  seek  the  means  of  form- 
ing good  habits  and  of  breaking  bad  ones. 

How  does  habit  become  possible?  For  the 
answer  to  that,  one  must  turn  to  that  strange  and 
awe-compelling  mass  of  gray  and  white  matter 
boxed  within  the  bones  of  the  skull.  The  brain  is 
composed  of  an  immense  number  of  separate  and 
minute  cells,  called  "neurones."  Each  is  connected 
potentially  with  a  number  of  other  neurones.  The 
points  of  connection  are  called  "synapses."  We 
may  visualize  the  brain  as  a  network  of  delicate 
piping  or  exquisitely  slender  tubes,  each  tube  con- 
taining a  number  of  valves  leading  to  other  tubes. 
The  tubes  are  the  neurones ;  the  valves  the  synapses. 
When  a  stimulus  comes  from  the  outside  world,  it 
sends  a  mysterious  current,  which  we  may  envisage 
as  the  current  of  some  fluid,  like  water,  through  one 
of  the  tubes;  this  forces  itself  out  of  one  of  the 

71. 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  75 

valves  into  the  particular  tube  leading  from  that 
valve;  this  tube  in  turn  has  a  number  of  valves, 
and  the  current  forces  its  way  out  of  the  one  most 
easily  opened,  and  so  on,  until  the  current  emerges 
finally  in  the  form  of  an  action.  In  this  picture 
I  have  represented  as  tubes  nerves  as  well  as  neu- 
rones. The  tubes  which  send  incoming  messages 
to  the  brain  are  called  "sensory"  nerves;  those  which 
carry  out  the  orders  of  the  brain  are  called  "motor" 
nerves. 

If  the  outward  stimulus  is  an  itch,  the  message 
is  carried  by  an  adjacent  sensory  nerve  to  the  brain, 
passes  through  the  tubes  and  valves  there,  the  neu- 
rones and  synapses,  and  emerges  through  a  motor 
nerve  in  the  form  of  the  action  of  scratching.  Or, 
the  itch  is  discovered  by  some  nerve  in  the  eye  to 
be  due  to  a  scab,  which  it  would  be  harmful  to 
scratch.  This  nerve  sets  up  a  counter  current; 
other  valves  are  opened  and  others  kept  closed,  and 
the  action  of  scratching  does  not  follow.  Certain 
valves,  or  synapses,  are  from  birth  predisposed  to 
open  with  particular  ease.  The  special  paths  which 
these  make  possible  are  called  instincts.  The  in- 
fant feeds  on  its  mother's  breasts  at  birth.  It  has 
had  no  experience,  no  knowledge;  it  may  not  be 
able  to  see.     Yet  a  particular  sensation  awakens  a 


76  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

particular  response.  The  instincts  we  have  in  com- 
mon. In  addition  to  these  inherited  paths  which 
all  have,  there  are  paths  open  in  the  brain  at  birth 
which  vary  in  different  individuals.  These  we  call 
innate  characteristics. 

Now  while  these  paths  of  instinct  and  innate 
characteristics  are  often  highly  useful,  they  are 
sometimes  exceedingly  dangerous.  They  need  to 
be  supplemented  by  experience  and  knowledge, 
which  dictate  the  opening  of  new  or  altered  paths. 
When  a  path  is  once  taken,  it  wears  down  the  valves, 
the  synapses,  through  which  it  passes.  Those 
valves  open  so  much  the  easier  thereafter,  and  the 
taking  of  that  path  becomes  so  much  easier  the  next 
time.  On  the  next  passage  of  the  current  those 
particular  synapses  open  more  easily  still,  until  the 
time  may  come  when  they  will  form  the  only  pos- 
sible path,  when  it  will  be  impossible  for  the  well- 
worn  valve  to  offer  more  resistance  to  the  on-rush- 
ing current  than  the  valve  seldom  or  never  opened. 

Such  is  the  physiologist's  explanation  of  habit, 
and  it  is  at  once  a  despair  and  a  glorious  promise. 
Forming  a  new  habit  is  like  forging  for  yourself 
a  new  path  in  the  woods,  through  stubborn  under- 
brush and  prickly  thorns,  while  all  the  while  it  is 
possible  for  you  to  take  the  well-worn,  hard-trodden, 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  77 

pleasant  path  that  already  exists.  But  you  can  re- 
flect that  every  time  you  travel  through  the  new 
path  you  are  going  to  tramp  down  more  shrubbery 
and  clear  more  entanglements  from  the  way.  Every 
time  you  take  the  path  it  is  going  to  become  easier. 

And  that  is  the  cheerful  side.  When  you  first 
set  about  to  abolish  a  bad  habit  and  establish  a  good 
one,  it  is  going  to  take  all  the  effort,  all  the  "will- 
power," at  your  command.  But  habit  begins  soon 
to  take  the  place  of  will-power;  it  will  require  less 
and  less  effort,  less  and  less  will-power,  each  time; 
the  strain  diminishes,  until  in  time  it  disappears. 
For  the  practice  of  that  particular  virtue,  will-power 
has  become  almost  useless.  Will-power  is  not 
needed  all  the  time.  It  is  called  for  only  at  the 
period  of  change. 

But  the  period  of  change  is  all-important.  It  is 
better  not  to  be  too  ambitious,  and  not  to  try  to 
change  too  many  habits  at  once.  Yet  as  soon  as 
you  find  one  new  method  of  response  becoming 
automatic,  you  may  turn  to  another.  You  will 
always  find  another.  No  matter  how  long  you 
live  nor  how  diligent  you  are,  you  will  never  ex- 
haust the  supply  of  new  good  habits  that  it  is  pos- 
sible to  form,  nor  the  supply  of  old  bad  habits  it 
is  possible  to  break.     And  all  the  time  you  will  be 


78  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

keeping  alive  the  faculty  of  effort  within  you.  Put- 
ting forth  moral  effort,  or  failing  to,  is  itself  a 
habit. 

All  this  comes  under  the  head  of  what  William 
James  would  call  making  our  nervous  system  our 
ally  instead  of  our  enemy,  which  consists  in  making 
automatic  and  habitual,  as  early  as  possible,  as  many 
useful  actions  as  we  can.  James,  building  on  the 
suggestions  of  Bain,  has  laid  down  several  maxims 
of  habit  which  it  would  be  difficult  to  improve  upon : 

"The  first  is  that  in  the  acquisition  of  a  new 
habit,  or  the  leaving  off  of  an  old  one,  we  must 
take  care  to  launch  ourselves  -with  as  strong  and  de- 
cided an  initiative  as  possible.  Accumulate  all  the 
possible  circumstances  which  shall  re-enforce  the 
right  motives;  put  yourself  assiduously  in  condi- 
tions that  encourage  the  new  way;  make  engage- 
ments incompatible  with  the  old;  take  a  public 
pledge,  if  the  case  allows;  in  short,  envelop  your 
resolution  with  every  aid  you  know.  This  will  give 
your  new  beginning  such  a  momentum  that  the 
temptation  to  break  down  will  not  occur  as  it  other- 
wise might;  and  every  day  during  which  a  break- 
down is  postponed  adds  to  the  chances  of  its  not 
occurring  at  all." 

In  this  connection  let  me  say  a  word  about  the 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  79 

effect  of  a  change  of  environment  upon  a  change  of 
habit.  In  our  ordinary  life  a  certain  routine  is  laid 
down  for  us  from  without,  and  this  largely  controls 
the  routine  developed  from  within.  Our  hours  of 
business  and  the  hours  at  which  we  take  our  meals, 
the  time  it  takes  to  get  from  the  office  to  the  home 
and  the  method  that  must  be  taken,  the  very  arrange- 
ment of  furniture  in  our  room,  all  help  to  engender 
and  develop  and  petrify  certain  habits.  But  if  a 
break  should  occur  in  this  routine,  if  the  hours  or 
the  nature  of  our  business  should  be  changed,  if 
we  should  move  from  the  city  to  the  country,  a  vast 
number  of  our  habits  would  be  changed  perforce. 
Such  changes  in  environment  should  be  welcomed 
when  they  occur;  they  should  be  recognized  and 
seized  upon  as  rare  opportunities  for  the  conscious 
formation  of  new  useful  habits  and  the  breaking 
of  old  bad  ones.  The  old  habits  were  made  possible 
because  they  were  unconsciously  suggested  by  asso- 
ciations in  the  old  environment.  But  when  we 
change,  we  can  no  longer  do  some  of  the  old  things 
absent-mindedly,  because  the  old  responses  are  not 
suggested,  and  often  they  do  not  fit.  Reform  in 
our  habits  of  rising  and  retiring,  in  the  hasty  or 
leisurely  eating  of  our  meals,  and  many  another 
daily   custom   that   determines  our  life   happiness, 


80  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

thus  becomes  more  possible.  But  the  trouble  is 
that  most  of  us,  when  such  opportunities  come,  fail 
to  appreciate  them,  and  fall  again  unconsciously, 
without  deliberate  choice,  into  habits  as  bad  as  the 
habits  we  left. 

Returning  to  the  James-Bain  maxims,  the  second 
is :  "Never  suffer  an  exception  to  occur  till  the  new 
habit  is  securely  rooted  in  your  life.  Each  lapse  is 
like  the  letting  fall  of  a  ball  of  string  which  one  is 
carefully  winding  up;  a  single  slip  undoes  more  than 
a  great  many  turns  will  wind  again.  Continuity  of 
training  is  the  great  means  of  making  the  nervous 
system  act  infallibly  right." 

A  German  writer  has  remarked :  "He  who  every 
day  makes  a  fresh  resolve  is  like  one  who,  arriving 
at  the  edge  of  the  ditch  he  is  to  leap,  forever  stops 
and  returns  for  a  fresh  run." 

This  leads  to  James'  third  maxim,  which  is: 
"Seise  the  very  first  possible  opportunity  to  act  on 
every  resolution  you  make,  and  on  every  emotional 
prompting  you  may  experience  in  the  direction  of 
the  habits  you  aspire  to  gain.  It  is  not  in  the 
moment  of  their  forming,  but  in  the  moment  of 
their  producing  motor  effects,  that  resolves  and 
aspirations  communicate  the  new  'set'  to  the  brain. 
No  matter  how  full  a  reservoir  of  maxims  one  may 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  81 

possess,  and  no  matter  how  good  one's  sentiments 
may  be,  if  one  has  not  taken  advantage  of  every  con- 
crete opportunity  to  act,  one's  character  may  remain 
entirely  unaffected  for  the  better." 

And  to  impress  his  remarks,  James  gives  a  final 
example :  "The  drunken  Rip  Van  Winkle,  in  Jeffer- 
son's play,  excuses  himself  for  every  fresh  derelic- 
tion by  saying,  'I  won't  count  this  time!'  Well! 
he  may  not  count  it,  and  a  kind  Heaven  may  not 
count  it ;  but  it  is  being  counted  none  the  less.  Down 
among  his  nerve-cells  and  fibres  the  molecules  are 
counting  it,  registering  and  storing  it  up  to  be  used 
against  him  when  the  next  temptation  comes. 
Nothing  we  ever  do  is,  in  strict  scientific  literalness, 
wiped  out." 

Oh,  the  pathos  of  telling  yourself,  when  each  new 
temptation  arises :  "I  will  begin  to  reform  the  next 
time.  I  will  yield  this  time,  and  this  will  be  the  last." 
Oh,  the  tragedy  of  that  excuse !  Self-deception  could 
not  possibly  be  more  complete.  If  you  can  only 
tell  yourself,  when  temptation  arises,  not  that  this 
time  will  be  the  last^  but  that  the  last  time  was  the 
last!  If  you  can  only  repeat  that  to  yourself,  if  you 
can  only  force  your  attention  to  rivet  on  that  fact,  if 
you  can  only  realize  that  the  whole  force  of  your  will 
and  moral  effort  must  be  summoned  now  and  not 


82  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

at  some  vague  time  in  the  future,  if  you  can  burn 
into  your  mind  that  this  battle,  this  inward  struggle 
against  temptation,  is  the  only  real  and  crucial  one, 
if  you  can  forget  about  the  moral  struggles  won  or 
lost  in  the  past  or  that  you  expect  to  win  in  the 
future,  and  concentrate  only  upon  the  present  battle, 
then  truly  you  will  be  on  the  way  to  will-power. 
And  it  is  the  only  way.  Moral  sentiments,  fine 
ideals,  excellent  mottoes,  splendid  resolutions,  are 
all  mere  preparation  for  the  struggle.  They  are  all 
very  well  in  their  place,  but  if  they  do  not  express 
themselves  in  action,  and  express  themselves  at  the 
moment  when  temptation  has  come,  they  are  worse 
than  useless. 

There  was  once  a  man  whose  wife,  for  curious 
reasons,  was  beaten  by  another  man.  This  beating  oc- 
curred regularly.  The  other  man  would  break  into 
the  house,  flog  the  wife  unmercifully  in  front  of  the 
husband  until  she  fell  unconscious,  and  then  leave. 
The  other  man  was  bigger  than  the  husband,  so 
the  husband  could  not  fight  back.  But  the  husband 
bought  himself  a  revolver.  It  was  a  beautiful  re- 
volver, with  an  exquisite  pearl  handle,  and  its  nickel 
finish  glistened  in  the  sun.  The  husband  loaded  it. 
The  other  man  came  again,  beat  the  man's  wife 
until  she  screamed  for  mercy,  and  left  her  prostrate. 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  83 

"But  where  was  the  husband?"  you  ask.  He  was 
right  on  the  scene.  "Didn't  he  use  his  revolver?" 
you  persist.  Well,  the  fact  must  be  admitted  that 
a  very  strange  thing  happened.  When  the  other 
man  came,  the  husband  was  so  frightened  that  he 
dropped  his  revolver  and  ran.  This  happened 
again  and  again.  It  may  be  said  to  the  husband's 
credit,  however,  that  every  time  the  beating  was 
over,  and  the  other  man  had  left,  the  husband 
always  came  back,  picked  up  his  revolver,  petted 
it  lovingly,  polished  it  again,  pointed  it  with  magni- 
ficent determination  at  an  imaginary  object,  and  said, 
"Ah,  wait  till  he  comes  next  time." 

This  is  a  parable.  It  is  hardly  necessary  to  point 
out  that  the  other  man  symbolizes  the  man's  temp- 
tations and  cravings  and  baser  instincts,  that  the 
wife  symbolizes  his  better  self,  that  the  revolver 
symbolizes  his  ideals,  and  the  cartridges  his  senti- 
ments and  mottoes  and  resolutions.  In  the  moment 
when  they  were  needed,  these  cartridges  did  not 
"go  off,"  they  did  not  explode,  they  were  not  ef- 
fective, and  the  simple  reason  was  that  the  man  did 
not  summon  the  effort  to  pull  the  trigger.  You 
need  ask  yourself  only  one  question  about  this 
parable,  but  your  answer  must  be  honest:  "Does 
the  husband  symbolize  Me?" 


XI 


WILL     AND   THE    PSYCHOANALYSTS 

iRACTICALLY  within  the  last  few  years  there 
has  grown  up  a  body  of  doctrine,  gradually  be- 
coming surrounded  with  a  formidable  literature, 
which  its  proponents  call  a  "science" ;  and  I  shall  not 
start  an  argument  at  the  very  beginning  by  denying 
its  title  to  that  word.  This  body  of  doctrine  is  called 
"psychoanalysis."  It  is  not  quite  clear  whether  its 
adherents  consider  it  a  branch  of  psychology  or  a 
competitor.  But  at  all  events,  it  has  just  now  be- 
come ubiquitous.  It  is  in  the  air.  It  is  the  fad. 
It  has  come  out  of  the  laboratories  into  the  draw- 
ing rooms,  out  of  the  consulting  rooms  into  the 
newspapers.  It  is  discussed  by  doctors  and  book- 
reviewers  and  spinsters  and  school  girls.  It  deals 
with  human  action,  with  the  mind,  the  will,  the  de- 
sires; it  lays  down  recommendations;  and  any  mod- 
ern book  upon  the  will,  though  it  may  embrace  or 
damn  psychoanalysis,  cannot  afford  to  ignore  it. 
Now  it  is  very  difficult  to  pass   fair  judgment 

84 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  85 

upon  this  body  of  doctrine.  It  is  so  young.  It 
has  already,  to  my  mind,  made  not  unimportant 
steps  in  the  treatment  and  cure  of  insanity  and 
nervous  diseases,  and  bids  fair  to  make  greater. 
Its  theories  of  multiple  personalities  and  the  mean- 
ing of  dreams  seem  to  me  fruitful  working  hypoth- 
eses, destined  to  add  to  the  achievements  of  psychia- 
try. Its  explanations  of  puritanism  and  of  certain 
phases  of  war  psychology,  utterly  apart  from  the 
question  of  whether  or  not  they  have  scientific 
value,  are  delicious  and  effective  bits  of  satire;  and, 
as  with  Thor stein  Veblen's  work  in  economics,  the 
satire  is  heightened,  not  diminished,  by  the  dry, 
scientific  vocabulary  in  which  it  is  wrapped  and 
the  impartial  scientific  attitude  which  it  affects. 

Psychoanalysis,  doubtless,  is  proceeding  on  many 
wrong  theories;  but  it  is  constantly  testing  those 
theories,  and  as  time  goes  on  the  bad  will  be  cast 
upon  the  scrap-heap  and  new  and  better  theories 
substituted.  It  is  tapping  and  specializing  upon  a 
vein  which  the  academic  psychology  had  neglected. 
It  has  attracted  wide  popular  interest.  It  has 
brought  controversy  into  psychology;  and  contro- 
versy, with  experiments  to  prove  or  disprove, 
always  means  life  and  growth  and  progress,  and 
is  the  enemy  of  stagnation.     It   is  true  that  the 


86  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

literature  of  psychoanalysis  is  morbid,  gruesome, 
depressing;  filled  with  sexual  perversions,  with  in- 
cest, sadism,  masochism,  onanism,  sodomy;  but 
what  would  3-ou?  Medical  books  on  physical  dis- 
eases are  also  horrible — but  necessary.  Spiritual 
scabs  and  ravages  and  pus  are  more  revolting  than 
physical — but  like  the  physical,  if  we  are  to  combat 
them,  we  must  study  them  with  the  cold  detached 
impartiality  of  the  physician.  We  must  for  the 
moment  put  aside  our  moral  platitudes  and  denun- 
ciations and  contempt  and  study  the  disease  and 
its  cure.  The  physician  does  not  denounce  his 
patient  for  becoming  ill,  though  the  patient  may 
well  deserve  it.  He  seeks  first  to  restore  health. 
Admonition  can  only  follow. 

But  when  I  have  said  all  this  in  favor  of  psycho- 
analysis, I  have  said  almost  as  much  as  I  conscien- 
tiously can.  Few  of  its  practitioners  are  well- 
grounded  in  psychology,  and  fewer  in  biology  and 
medicine.  It  utilizes  orthodox  medicine,  biology, 
psychology,  anatomy  and  physiology  when  they  can 
be  used  to  prove  a  special  point,  and  rejects  them 
when  they  can  not.  There  is  hardly  a  single  analyst 
who  could  be  called  a  cautious  thinker.  Most  of 
them  do  not  appear  to  know  the  difference  between 
a  substantiated  theory  and  a  guess.     Presumptive 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  87 

evidence  is  set  down  as  if  it  were  conclusive  evi- 
dence. Some  of  their  deductions  are  highly  fanci- 
ful. They  would  be  extremely  difficult  to  verify, 
and  there  is  usually  no  attempt  at  verification. 
Whenever  human  nature  is  praised,  proof  is  re- 
quired; but  apparently  whenever  it  is  satirized  or 
insulted,  proof  is  deemed  superfluous.  The  most 
dubious  conjecture,  based  on  the  frailest  kind  of 
evidence,  is  set  down  with  the  positive  air  of  a  fact. 
Explanations  for  which  the  best  that  can  be  said  is 
that  they  are  possible  or  plausible  are  treated  as  if 
they  were  the  final  and  only  ones;  though  alterna- 
tive explanations,  at  least  equally  and  possibly  more 
plausible,  and  certainly  nowhere  near  as  far-fetched, 
may  occur  to  a  person  not  altogether  hypnotized  by 
the  Freudian  interpretation. 

It  is  one  of  the  foremost  Freudian  theories — if, 
indeed,  it  is  not  the  foremost — that  every  dream 
(not  some  dreams,  mind  you,  but  every  one!)  rep- 
resents the  gratification  of  some  desire  suppressed 
or  repressed  during  the  waking  state.  This  de- 
sire, according  to  Freud,  is  practically  always  a 
sexual  one;  at  least  the  predominance  of  the  sexual 
element  appears  to  be  overwhelming. 

Now  such  a  theory  in  its  bald  state  would  not 
impose  upon  a  half-witted  person.     So  the  psycho- 


88  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

analysts  go  on  to  show  that  most  of  our  dreams  are 
"symbolic."  And  what  ingenious  symbolism! 
The  unconscious  mind  asleep  seems  to  me  infinitely 
more  clever  than  the  conscious  mind  awake !  It  is 
also  a  theory  of  Freud's  that  every  act,  every  slip 
of  the  tongue,  every  bit  of  absent-mindedness  or 
forgetfulness,  means  something.  Forgetting  a 
name,  an  event  or  a  figure,  is  not  merely  failure 
to  remember;  it  is  a  positive  act.  We  forget  be- 
cause we  have  an  unconscious  desire  to  forget;  the 
fact  or  name  is  associated  with  something  unpleas- 
ant, and  the  mind  tends  to  eject  it  or  the  uncon- 
scious to  suppress  it.  I  wish  I  had  time,  for  your, 
edification,  to  quote  a  few  typical  examples  of  the 
"interpretations"  which  the  psychoanalysts  give  of 
different  dreams  and  trivial  acts  in  the  light  of 
these  theories.  Their  capacity  for  reading  any- 
thing they  choose  into  anything  they  want  is  utterly 
enormous.  You  would  sometimes  think  from  a 
few  of  these  "interpretations"  that  the  psychoana- 
lysts were  satirizing  or  burlesquing  themselves. 
Really  it  is  not  so.  But  the  reader  who  has  suffi- 
cient psychologic  curiosity  to  be  interested  in  seeing 
how  a  theory  can  be  ridden  to  death  and  then  pulled 
to  its  feet  and  ridden  again  would  find  unsurpassed 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  89 

material  by  delving  a  little  into  psychoanalytic 
literature. 

A  large  part  of  the  interest  in  psychoanalysis  is 
almost  wholly  prurient.  It  is  to  the  fact  that  it 
deals  so  largely  with  "sex,"  I  verily  believe,  that 
it  owes  the  larger  part  of  its  popular  vogue.  It 
seems,  too,  to  have  a  certain  tendency  to  wallow 
in  it  and  find  a  morbid  fascination  in  it.  Examples 
of  sexual  abnormalities  are  piled  up  with  a  relish 
not  unlike  that  which  gossiping  people  have  in  re- 
tailing scandal,  and  often  apparently  with  the  same 
object — to  tell  the  tale  for  the  sake  of  the  tale.  The 
examples  are  usually  more  than  are  needed  to  en- 
force a  given  conclusion,  though  the  exact  bearing 
of  each  upon  the  conclusion  is  not  always  indicated. 

There  can  be  little  doubt  that  the  reading  of  psy- 
choanalytic literature  tends  to  suggest  and  arouse 
sexual  trains  of  thought  in  the  minds  of  many 
readers,  and  I  am  here  speaking  of  "normal" 
readers,  and  not  of  what  the  psychoanalysts  would 
call  a  "sexually  hypersensitive"  or  "hyperassthetic" 
reader.  The  same,  of  course,  may  be  true  of  a 
medical  book.  I  am  not  condemning.  I  am  merely 
stating  a  fact. 

This  statement  has  been  made  before,  and  one 


90  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

psychoanalyst  has  attempted  to  answer  it  in  this 
wise:  "The  sexual  material  is  present  in  every 
subject,  normal  or  abnormal,  and  comes  to  the  sur- 
face very  easily.  No  suggestion  is  necessary  to 
bring  it  forth." 

That  is  emphatically  not  an  answer.  We  have 
seen  before,  in  our  inquiry  into  the  nature  of  de- 
sire, that  desires  are  not  ever-present,  but  become 
active  only  when  some  train  of  thought  or  some  ex- 
ternal observation  or  stimulus  has  aroused  them; 
and  we  illustrated  by  a  phonograph  record,  which, 
while  it  preserves  a  tune,  is  silent  when  it  isn't 
being  played.  The  example  of  passing  the  fruit- 
stand  was  given  as  a  case  in  point.  The  like  is 
true  of  sexual  desires.  Whether  a  desire  "comes 
to  the  surface"  or  stays  below  is  a  point  of  very 
great    importance. 

The  psychoanalytic  method  is  incomplete,  insuf- 
ficiently checked  up  by  other  methods,  and  rests  upon 
some  dubious  assumptions.  It  seeks  to  interpret 
the  normal  mind  through  a  study  of  the  abnormal 
mind.  This  is  a  perfectly  valid  and  useful  method 
within  proper  limits,  but  it  can  be  overdone  and 
rashly  handled.  "The  neurotic,"  says  one  psycho- 
analyst, "only  accentuates  certain  general  human 
traits  and  tendencies  and  he  makes  them,  thereby, 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  91 

easier  to  observe."  Such  a  statement  needs  qualifi- 
cation. Instead  of  "accentuating"  a  trait  of  a  nor- 
mal man,  the  neurotic  may  be  a  neurotic  because 
he  so  greatly  distorts  it.  Disease  symptoms  do 
not  "accentuate"  health  symptoms. 

Finally,  to  all  these  sins,  psychoanalysis  adds  the 
unforgivable  crime  of  pedantry.  I  do  not  know  of 
a  science  that  habitually  wraps  its  thoughts  in  such 
awesome  and  jawcracking  phraseology,  with  such 
a  maze  of  newly  coined  words,  above  all,  habitually 
tacking  on  the  magic  word  "complex"  after  de- 
scribing any  trait  whatever  in  order  to  make  it 
sound  as  if  something  very  profound  had  been 
pointed  out.  When  most  of  these  psychoanalytic 
thoughts  are  disentangled  from  the  verbiage  in 
which  they  are  snarled  and  concealed,  and  lie  be- 
fore you  in  all  their  nakedness,  they  are  seen  to  be 
either  very  commonplace  and  obvious,  or  very  ab- 
surd. Such  a  discovery  might  be  suspected  in  ad- 
vance, for  poverty  of  thought  habitually  tries  to 
conceal  itself  beneath  a  deluge  of  diction.  This 
may  be  a  case  of  the  "unconscious"  or  the  "inferi- 
ority complex,"  forming  a  "self -protective  neuro- 
sis!" 

But  this  is  digressing.  My  purpose  is  not  to 
criticize  psychoanalysis  as  a  whole,  but  to  examine 


92  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

one  of  its  cardinal  doctrines  which  seems  to  me  to 
bear  directly  on  the  subject  of  will-power.  But  first 
I  shall  have  to  explain  what  that  doctrine  is. 

The  psychoanalysts  lay  a  good  deal  of  stress 
upon  what  is  commonly  called  the  subconscious, 
and  what  they  call  the  unconscious.  Their  con- 
ception of  the  unconscious  is  vividly  described  by 
Mr.  Andre  Tridon,  in  a  book  on  "Psychoanalysis 
and  Behavior,"  from  which  I  shall  take  the  liberty 
of  quoting: 

"Our  unconscious  'contains'  two  sorts  of 
'thoughts' :  those  which  rise  easily  to  the  surface 
of  our  consciousness  and  those  which  remain  at  the 
bottom  and  can  only  be  made  to  rise  with  more  or 
less  difficulty. 

"Our  unconscious  mind  is  like  a  pool  into  which 
dead  leaves,  dust,  rain  drops  and  a  thousand  other 
things  are  falling  day  after  day,  some  of  them  float- 
ing on  the  surface  for  a  while,  some  sinking  to  the 
bottom  and,  all  of  them,  after  a  while,  merging 
themselves  with  the  water  or  the  ooze.  Let  us 
suppose  that  two  dead  dogs,  one  of  them  weighted 
down  with  a  stone,  have  been  thrown  into  that  pool. 
They  will  poison  its  water,  and  people  wishing  to 
use  those  waters  will  have  to  rake  the  ooze  and  re- 
move the  rotting  carrion.     The  dog  whose  body  was 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  93 

not  fastened  to  any  heavy  object  will  easily  be 
brought  to  the  surface  and  removed.  The  other 
will  be  more  difficult  to  recover,  and  if  the  stone 
is  very  heavy,  may  remain  in  the  pool  until  ways 
and  means  are  devised  to  dismember  him  or  to  cut 
the  rope  holding  him  down." 

Now  these  two  dogs  may  be  made  to  represent 
two  sorts  of  desires  or  cravings.  The  first  of  these 
are  cravings  of  which  we  are  aware,  but  which,  be- 
cause they  are  "immoral,"  or  socially  detrimental, 
or  difficult  or  impossible  to  gratify  for  some  other 
reason,  remain  unacted  upon.  These  are  called 
"suppressed"  desires.  The  second  are  cravings 
which  we  not  only  fail  to  gratify,  but  of  whose  very 
existence  we  are  unaware.  If  someone  were  to 
suggest  that  we  had  such  cravings  we  might  even 
vehemently,  and  perhaps  honestly,  deny  it.  These 
are  called  "repressed"  desires. 

Now,  say  the  psychoanalysts,  though  we  can  sup- 
press or  repress  our  cravings,  we  cannot  annihilate 
them.  To  use  one  of  their  similes :  "Whether  we 
remain  in  ignorance  of  the  fact  that  a  boiler  is  full 
of  steam  or  simply  disregard  that  fact,  the  steam 
is  there,  seeking  an  outlet  and  likely  to  create  an 
abnormal  one,  unless  a  normal  outlet  is  provided." 

What  will  this  "abnormal  outlet"  be?     Accord- 


94  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

ing  to  the  psychoanalysts,  it  may  take  several  forms. 
"Between  the  compelling  instinct  and  the  opposing 
force  of  sexual  denial,"  for  instance,  "the  way  is 
prepared  for  some  disturbance  which  does  not  solve 
the  conflict  but  seeks  to  escape  it  by  changing  the 
libidinous  cravings  into  symptoms  of  disease."  In 
other  words,  the  suppression  or  repression  of  sexual 
cravings,  they  assert,  will  lead  to  anxiety  dreams, 
nightmares,  nervous  disorders,  intolerance,  hallucin- 
ations, dual  and  multiple  personalities,  insanity,  or 
burst  out  in  abnormal  sexual  perversions  of  a 
revolting  sort.  They  bring  forth  examples  of 
perversions  in  great  men.  They  point  with  a  finger 
of  warning  at  the  ascetics  and  holy  men  and  women 
who  were  fighting  the  flesh,  and  contend  that  these 
exchanged  normal  reality  for  hallucinations,  and 
normal  desires  for  perverse  desires. 

And  what  cure  do  they  suggest?  Here  I  must 
be  cautious,  and  warn  the  reader  that  the  psycho- 
analysts do  not  altogether  agree  upon  this  matter 
among  themselves.  I  will  try,  however,  as  best  I 
may,  to  do  justice  to  the  bulk  of  their  opinion. 

They  believe,  first,  that  we  should  be  made 
conscious  of  our  repressed  cravings.  To  make  the 
subject  conscious  of  these,  they  interpret  his  acts, 
study    his    dreams,    unravel    the    symbolism,    and 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  95 

gradually  inform  the  patient  what  his  repressed 
cravings  are.  This  is  cutting  the  rope  that  holds 
the  dead  dog  down.  The  first  job  is  to  bring  him 
to  the  surface. 

Critics  have  feared  that  causing  these  uncon- 
scious cravings  to  rise  to  consciousness  may  cause 
them  to  overpower  the  patient's  ethical  strivings. 
The  belief  has  also  been  expressed  that  this  method 
may  suggest  a  craving  or  put  into  the  mind  of 
the  patient  a  harmful  idea  that  was  not  there 
before.  Freud,  the  originator  and  patron  saint  of 
psychoanalysis,  has  answered  to  the  first  criticism 
that  a  wish  whose  repression  has  failed  is  incom- 
parably stronger  when  it  remain  unconscious  than 
when  it  is  made  conscious.  The  unconscious  wish 
cannot  be  influenced  and  is  not  hindered  by  striv- 
ings in  the  opposite  direction,  while  the  conscious 
wish  is  inhibited  by  other  conscious  wishes  of  an 
opposite  nature.  I  shall  not  take  sides  on  this  par- 
ticular argument,  but  shall  merely  content  myself 
with  presenting  the  two  points  of  view,  leaving 
the  reader  to  judge  of  their  merits  for  himself. 

When  the  unconscious  craving  is  brought  to  the 
surface,  what  becomes  of  it  and  what  is  to  be  done 
with  it?  Partly,  say  the  psychoanalysts,  it  is  "con- 
sumed" and  overpowered  in  the  very  act  of  bring- 


96  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

ing  it  up.  Instead  of  being  repressed,  it  is  con- 
demned. The  psychoanalyst  may  also  suggest 
healthy  and  normal  and  socially  beneficial  or  harm- 
less ways  of  gratifying  it. 

But  there  is  something  further.  It  may,  accord- 
ing to  Freud,  be  "sublimated."  By  sublimation, 
Freud  understands  a  process*  which  seeks  to  utilize 
the  sexual  energy,  immobilized  by  repressions  and 
set  free  by  analysis,  for  higher  purposes  of  a  non- 
sexual nature.  In  other  words,  the  components  of 
the  sexual  energy  can  be  made  to  exchange  their 
sexual  goal  for  one  more  remote  and  socially  valu- 
able. "To  the  utilization  of  the  energy  reclaimed 
in  such  a  way,  in  the  activities  of  our  mental  life, 
we  probably  owe  the  highest  cultural  achievements. 
As  long  as  an  impulse  is  repressed,  it  cannot  be 
sublimated.  After  the  removal  of  the  repression, 
the  way  to  sublimation  is  open." 

All  this  is  interesting  and  promising.  But  alas! 
The  doctrine  is  violently  criticized  by  many  other 
psychoanalysts.  "No  normal  craving,"  says  one, 
"can  be  normally  repressed.  Nor  can  it  be 
normally  sublimated."  And  again:  "The  desir- 
ability of  sublimation,  except  as  a  social  conven- 
ience, remains  to  be  proved." 

In  fact,  it  is  doubtful  to  just  what  extent  Freud 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  97 

himself  believed  in  this  theory.  In  one  of  his  lec- 
tures, he  said:  "If  the  repression  of  sexuality  is 
pushed  too  far  it  amounts  to  a  robbery  committed 
against  the  organism."  He  concluded  this  lecture 
with  a  story.  A  village  community  kept  a  horse 
which  was  capable  of  an  enormous  amount  of 
work.  But  the  wiseacres  thought  that  it  was  prov- 
ing too  costly  by  consuming  too  much  fodder.  So 
they  began  to  cut  down  its  ration,  day  by  day. 
It  finally  got  so  small  that  the  horse  was  living  on 
one  stalk  of  hay  a  day,  with  apparently  no  ill 
effects.  The  next  morning  he  was  to  be  taken  to 
work  with  no  food  at  all.  But  on  that  morning 
he  was  found  dead  in  his  stall.  The  "sublimation" 
of  his  craving  for  food  had  been  complete. 

The  suggestion  is  plain.  Freud  is  putting  the  de- 
sire for  sexual  gratification  in  the  same  category  as 
the  desire  for  food.  I  cannot  see  the  justice  for  that ; 
and  I  am  sorry,  if,  in  pointing  out  his  fallacy,  I  am 
obliged  to  utter  a  few  platitudes.  Food  is  absolutely 
essential  to  the  life  of  the  individual,  from  the  day 
of  birth.  There  is  no  one  to  deny  it.  Sexualit3% 
however  essential  to  the  continuation  of  the  race, 
has  no  indispensable  connection  with  the  individual. 
No  one  has  ever  been  known  to  live  without  food. 
How  many  have  lived  without  sexual  gratification 


98    -        THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

no  one  can  say ;  but  I  have  no  doubt  that  the  number, 
in  its  totality,  has  been  amazingly  large. 

The  psychoanalysts  point  to  monks  and  ordinary 
individuals  who,  attempting  to  deny  the  flesh,  suf- 
fered from  hallucinations  or  finally  burst  forth  in 
abnormal  perversions.  Most  of  the  examples  they 
cite  may  be  true.  All  of  them  may  be  true.  But 
that  would  not  prove  their  case.  In  order  to  do 
so,  they  would  have  to  prove  what  the  logicians 
call  a  universal  negative.  They  would  have  to 
show  that  there  has  never  been  a  case  in  which 
the  flesh  has  been  denied  without  physical  injury 
or  mental  disturbance.  Either  that,  or  they  would 
have  to  Supply  overwhelming  evidence  to  show  that 
on  a  priori  grounds  such  a  thing  is  impossible. 
They  have  not  done  so.  They  have  not  come  near 
doing  so.  And  though  it  is  impossible  to  prove 
beyond  question  of  any  given  individual  that  he 
has  not  indulged  in  any  sexual  practice  of  any  kind, 
yet  there  is  abundant  presumptive  evidence  that 
thousands  of  prominent  churchmen,  scientists,  phil- 
osophers and  quite  ordinary  individuals  have  suc- 
ceeded in  absolute  chastity  and  remained  otherwise 
wholly  "normal." 

And  before  going  any  further  it  would  be  well 
to  call  attention  to  a  point  of  the  highest  impor- 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  99 

tance.  Altogether  apart  from  the  truth  of  one 
belief  or  the  other,  we  must  consider  the  moral 
effect  of  the  belief.  If  you  believe  that  you  cannot 
get  along  without  sexual  or  any  other  particular 
gratification,  then  assuredly  you  will  not  be  able 
to.  But  if  you  believe  that  you  can  get  along  with- 
out it,  you  may  have  won  half  the  victory.  What 
you  believe  in  this  respect  will  have  an  overwhelm- 
ing influence  upon  what  you  do.  If  you  are  con- 
vinced that  "repression"  or  "suppression"  will 
lead  to  mental  torture  or  abnormal  outlets,  then 
this  fear  will  be  constantly  before  you.  By  think- 
ing that  you  have  to  yield,  you  will  yield.  But  if 
you  are  confident  that  the  desire  can  be  success- 
fully fought,  your  confidence  will  vastly  increase 
your  strength  to  fight  it.  Whichever  your  belief, 
you  will  tend  to  make  your  belief  true.  One  does 
not  have  to  be  a  philosophic  pragmatist  to  appre- 
ciate that.  I  hope  I  shall  be  forgiven  for  a  liberal 
use  of  italics  and  repetition  on  this  point:  I  think 
they  are  necessary. 

There  is  another  question  in  regard  to  this 
matter.  What  is  a  "normal"  craving?  The  psy- 
choanalysts (and  perhaps  they  are  not  alone  in 
this)  apparently  put  the  sexual  desire  on  all  fours 
with  the  desire  for  food.     But  the  satisfaction  of 


100  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

the  desire  for  food  does  not  result  in  any  reaction. 
It  does  not  weaken  a  man.  It  does  not  depress. 
It  does  not  enervate.  It  does  not  exhaust.  And 
here  we  should  draw  a  sharp  distinction  between 
two  words  that  up  to  now  I  have  been  using  almost 
interchangeably.  I  refer  to  the  distinction  between 
a  desire  and  a  crazing.  AVe  have  a  desire  for  food, 
but  a  craving  for  cigarettes,  whiskey,  morphine. 
The  first  fills  a  positive  need  and  gives  a  positive 
satisfaction.  The  second  is  largely  negative;  it 
may  give  a  positive  satisfaction  at  the  beginning, 
but  in  its  later  stages,  especially  if  one  becomes  a 
cigarette  or  a  morphine  fiend  or  a  dipsomaniac,  it 
merely  relieves  a  sense  of  discomfort,  agony,  or 
torture,  from  which  one  who  is  not  an  addict  is 
wholly  free. 

Is  the  sexual  craving  a  "normal"  craving  simply 
because  it  is  inborn,  while  a  craving  for  tobacco, 
alcohol  or  opium  is  abnormal  because  it  is  acquired? 
But  if  this  distinction  is  valid,  of  what  real  prac- 
tical importance  is  it  so  far  as  the  individual  is 
concerned?  Surely  the  acquired  craving  may  be 
fully  as  intense  and  overwhelming  as  the  "normal'' 
craving.  People  who  do  not  believe  this  may 
ponder  these  examples  quoted  by  Dr.  Mussey: 

"A    few   years   ago  a   tippler  was   put    into   an 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  101 

almshouse  in  this  State  (Ohio).  Within  a  few 
days  he  had  devised  various  expedients  to  procure 
rum,  but  failed.  At  length,  however,  he  hit  upon 
one  which  was  successful.  He  went  into  the  wood- 
yard  of  the  establishment,  placed  one  hand  upon 
the  block,  and  with  an  axe  in  the  other  struck  it 
off  at  a  single  blow.  With  the  stump  raised  and 
streaming  he  ran  into  the  house  and  cried,  'Get 
some  rum !  get  some  rum !  My  hand  is  off !'  In 
the  confusion  and  bustle  of  the  occasion  a  bowl  of 
rum  was  brought,  into  which  he  plunged  the  bleed- 
ing member  of  his  body,  then  raising  the  bowl  to 
his  mouth,  drank  freely,  and  exultingly  exclaimed, 
'Now  I  am  satisfied.'  Dr.  J.  E.  Turner  tells  of  a 
man  who,  while  under  treatment  for  inebriety, 
during  four  weeks  secretly  drank  the  alcohol  from 
six  jars  containing  morbid  specimens.  On  asking 
him  why  he  had  committed  this  loathsome  act,  he 
replied:  'Sir,  it  is  as  impossible  for  me  to  control 
this  diseased  appetite  as  it  is  for  me  to  control  the 
pulsations  of  my  heart.'  " 

Do  the  psychoanalysts,  or  does  anyone  else, 
believe  that  it  is  impossible  to  fight  a  craving  of 
this  sort,  and  that  there  is  nothing  to  be  done  but 
give  in  to  it?  I  do  not  think  so.  But  if  a  craving 
of  this  intensity  can  be  fought,  why  not  the  so-called 


102  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

"normal"  craving?  What  would  the  psychoanalysts 
consider  a  "normal  outlet"  for  a  "normal"  craving? 
Just  how  frequent  would  indulgence  in  a  given 
"normal"  appetite  have  to  be  in  order  to  be  a 
"normal  outlet?"  Will  the  psychoanalysts,  or  any- 
one else,  deny  that  indulgence  in  itself  develops 
and  increases  a  craving?  Surely  the  psychoanalysts 
are  the  first  to  declare  that  abnormal  perversions 
of  the  sexual  instinct  are  acquired,  that  they  began 
and  developed  because  the  sexual  instinct  orginally 
took  a  wrong  turn,  and  were  intensified  because  that 
was  persisted  in.  But  when  one  has  admitted  all 
this,  one  has  come  rather  close  to  admitting  the  un- 
questionable truth  that  the  sexual  craving,  as  it 
appears  in  the  adult  human  being,  is  itself,  in  the  in- 
tensity and  particular  form  it  takes,  very  largely  an 
"acquired"  craving. 

Let  us  grant  the  psychoanalysts'  contention  that 
an  attempt  to  fight  the  sexual  craving,  as  it  has 
become  developed,  may  involve  mental  anxiety,  and 
even,  if  the  craving  be  powerful  enough,  mental 
torture  for  a  time.  Would  not  the  struggle  against 
the  craving  for  drink,  developed  to  the  intensity 
in  the  dipsomaniacs  just  cited,  or  even  in  far  less 
intensity,  also  involve  mental  anxiety  and  torture? 
Any  conquest  or  act  of  will  worth  while  involves 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  103 

that.      If    there    were    no    price    attached   to    will- 
power, it  could  be  had  for  the  asking. 

One  last  argument  may  be  urged  in  support  of 
the  "normality"  of  the  sexual  desire  as  opposed  to 
other  cravings.  It  may  be  alleged  that,  while  in 
its  developed  and  actual  adult  form,  the  sexual 
passion  is  largely  or  partly  an  acquired  one  (its 
form  and  intensity  depending  to  a  great  extent 
upon  early  environment,  imitation,  decisions  at 
critical  times,  frequency  of  indulgence),  yet  the 
organism  is  endowed  with  an  instinctive  propensity 
without  which  the  sexual  craving  as  developed 
would  never  have  come  into  existence.  This  is 
true.  I  have  not  denied  it.  But  if  it  is  true  of 
the  sexual  desire,  it  is  true  of  every  other  desire. 
It  is  true  of  the  developed  craving  for  rum,  for 
opium,  for  morphine,  for  overindulgence  in  cig- 
arettes or  even  in  candy,  or  for  mere  gluttony. 
The  formation  of  these  cravings  is  possible  because 
the  organism  has  certain  instinctive  propensities. 
Men  do  not  usually  form  passions  for  ink-drinking, 
or  for  molten  lead,  or  for  eating  gravel,  because 
the  organism  has  no  instinctive  propensity  for  these 
things.  Every  desire  whatever,  no  matter  how 
perverted  or  injurious,  is  the  finished  product  made 
from  the  raw  materials  of  instinctive  propensities. 


104  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

There  are  no  other  finished  products,  because  there 
are  no  other  raw  materials  to  make  them  with. 

Reduced  to  its  lowest  terms,  stripped  of  its 
scientific  pretensions  and  its  pseudo-scientific 
trappings  and  terminology,  boiled  down  from  a 
ponderous  literature  into  a  single  sentence,  the 
contention  of  the  psychoanalysts  was  long  ago 
expressed  in  the  epigram  of  Oscar  Wilde:  "The 
only  way  to  get  rid  of  a  temptation  is  to  yield 
to  it." 

It  would  be  unfair  to  intimate  that  this  epigram 
accounted  for  Oscar  Wilde's  own  private  char- 
acter and  sexual  practice,  and  I  will  not  do  so. 
If  he  thought  of  his  private  character  at  all  when 
he  penned  it,  the  epigram  may  possibly  have  been 
considered  by  him  as  a  justification  of  his  course; 
but  this  would  not  mean  that  it  was  a  cause.  The 
ethical  philosophy  of  most  men  is  a  system  of 
apologetics;  it  is  a  result  of  their  own  conduct 
rather  than  a  cause  and  determinant  of  it.  But 
all  these  considerations  aside.  Let  us  judge  the 
epigram  on  its  intrinsic  merits. 

Like  all  good  epigrams,  it  is  at  least  true  in  a 
special  sense.  And  the  sense  in  which  the  epigram 
is  true  is  that  if  you  yield  to  a  temptation,  you 
will  get  rid  of  it  for  the  moment.     That  is  all  the 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  105 

truth  there  is  in  it.  For  the  very  fact  that  you 
have  yielded  to  the  temptation  will  make  it  return 
at  a  later  time  with  increased  power  and  urgency. 
Every  time  you  yield  to  it,  you  do  two  things :  you 
increase  the  intensity  of  the  desire  and  lessen  the 
power  of  resistance.  You  form  a  habit  of  yield- 
ing. You  form  a  habit  of  yielding  not  only 
to  that,  but  to  all  other  cravings — and  we  have 
learned  what  habits  are.  You  develop  and  strength- 
en the  craving  by  use,  just  as  you  develop  a  muscle 
by  use.  The  parallel  is  exact.  In  exercising  your 
muscles,  you  temporarily  fatigue  them  and  wear 
them  down.  But  this  very  breaking  down  of  tissues 
calls  nutrition  into  the  worn  muscles,  and  when  the 
fatigue  is  past,  and  the  processes  of  repair  have 
been  completed,  the  muscles  are  all  the  harder  and 
stronger. 

On  the  other  hand,  every  time  you  resist  a  desire 
you  strengthen  your  power  to  resist.  Every  desire 
grows  by  gratification.  Feed  the  desire,  it  will 
fatten  and  grow  great;  starve  it,  it  will  greatly 
weaken.  It  may  even  die  of  inanition.  This  is 
the  true  application  of  Freud's  story  of  the  horse. 
The  common  experience,  not  of  neurotics  and 
paranoiacs,  but  of  mankind  in  general,  proves  this 
over  and  over  again.     It  does  not  need  laboratory 


106  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

experiments  or  elaborate  psychiatry  to  demon- 
strate it. 

It  ought  not  to  be  necessary,  but  to  shield  my 
remarks  from  misconstruction  and  misrepresenta- 
tion, I  want  to  defend  myself  against  any  taint  of 
puritanism  in  the  invidious  sense  in  which  the 
psychoanalysts  and  Mr.  H.  L.  Mencken  use  that 
word.  I  do  not  denounce  the  sexual  act  as  immoral 
in  itself.  I  do  not  declaim  against  the  gratification 
of  the  sexual  passions  in  what  the  psychoanalysts 
call  a  "normal  married  life,"  provided  that  grati- 
fication is  continent,  and  does  not  reach  the  point 
where  it  undermines  or  endangers  physical  and 
nervous  and  mental  health  and  well-being.  But  I 
do  contend  that  if,  through  economic  or  other  cir- 
cumstances, or  disinclination,  or  inability  to  fall  in 
love,  a  man  either  does  not  marry  or  delays 
marriage,  it  is  perfectly  possible  for  him  to  lead 
an  absolutely  chaste  and  normal  life;  and  of  two 
unmarried  men  having  equal  sexual  propensities 
to  begin  with,  the  man  who  voluntarily  restrains 
them  the  more  is  the  stronger  and  the  better 
character. 

I  am  merely  making  this  one  point :  that  die  sexual 
craving  can  be  fought,  that  it  can  be  lived  down, 
that  it  can  be  conquered,  and  that  the  conquest  of 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  107 

it  would  immensely  strengthen  the  character,  and 
make  most  other  moral  victories  comparatively 
easy.  I  hold  to  the  ideal  of  Huxley,  of  a  man 
"who,  no  stunted  ascetic,  is  full  of  life  and  fire,  but 
whose  passions  are  trained  to  come  to  heel  by  a 
vigorous  will,  the  servant  of  a  tender  conscience." 
Perhaps  there  are  psychoanalysts  who  will  agree 
with  all  this.  Perhaps  there  are  psychoanalysts  who 
will  protest  against  my  fulminations,  saying  they 
do  not  hold  the  views  I  attribute  to  them,  that  I 
either  do  not  understand  their  views  or  that  I  wil- 
fully distort  them.  If  I  have  been  unfair,  if  I 
have  through  lack  of  discrimination  blamed  all 
psychoanalysts  for  the  faults  of  a  few,  if  I  have 
unjustly  damned  the  leaders  for  the  views  dissem- 
inated by  ardent  but  muddle-headed  and  ignorant 
disciples,  I  am  sorry.  I  have  meant  only  to  assault 
a  particular  idea.  I  have  tried  to  be  fair;  and 
wherever  possible  I  have  taken  the  psychoanalysts' 
own  words  to  state  their  position.  But  whatever 
the  psychoanalysts  do  or  do  not  teach,  there  is  no 
doubt  at  all  about  the  popular  impression  of  what 
they  teach,  and  the  popular  impression  (which  is 
the  all-important  thing)  is  that  they  believe  it  not 
only  impossible  to  conquer  the  sexual  passion,  but 
highly  dangerous  to  try. 


108  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

This  vicious  doctrine  existed  long  before  the 
psychoanalysts,  but  the  present  menace  is  that 
psychoanalysis  may  foster  and  encourage  it,  by 
seeming  to  lend  it  scientific  foundation  and  support. 
The  doctrine  must  be  utterly  demolished,  and  every- 
thing that  appears  to  offer  it  respectworthy  standing 
must  be  examined  and  exposed.  This  is  all  I  have 
attempted  to  do. 


XII 


CONCENTRATION 


HpHUS  far  I  have  spoken  of  the  breaking  and 
■■-  forming  of  habits,  and  of  the  acquisition  of 
will-power ;  but  for  the  most  part  I  have  given  only 
scattered  hints  on  what  to  do  with  your  will-power 
after  you  have  it.  Most  of  these  hints  have  been 
negative;  they  have  talked  of  the  avoidance  of 
certain  acts;  and  where  they  have  been  positive, 
where  they  have  talked  of  the  performance  of  acts, 
they  have  been  altogether  lofty  and  abstract.  We 
have  now  to  descend  from  the  empyrean  of  gen- 
eralities to  the  forest  of  details. 

Your  ultimate  ends  and  yearnings  I  shall,  for 
the  moment,  take  for  granted.  I  assume  that  you 
know  what  you  want,  that  you  have  definite  ideas 
on  where  the  treasure  of  happiness  is  buried,  and 
that  you  merely  seek  aid  in  securing  the  implements 
to  dig  for  it.  Your  aim  in  life  may  be  wealth, 
power,  fame,  or  a  partnership  in  the  lime  and 
cement  business.     Assuming  its  existence,  whatever 

109 


110  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

it  may  be,  and  the  willingness  also  to  pay  the  price 
for  it,  we  have  now  to  inquire  how  the  price  is  to 
be  paid. 

Your  effort  of  will  is  not  thrown  out  all  at  once. 
You  are  not  asked  to  pay  cash  down  in  full.  You 
are  permitted — nay,  you  are  obliged — to  pay  for 
your  end  in  installments,  in  relatively  small  efforts 
of  will.  But  these  efforts  of  will  must  be  continu- 
ous and  sustained.  If  you  miss  a  payment,  the 
penalty  imposed  will  be  exorbitant,  and  you  will 
have  to  make  a  much  greater  total  payment  in  the 
end.  On  the  other  hand,  if  your  payments  are 
made  promptly,  you  will  find  the  amount  called 
for  diminishing  all  the  time. 

With  most  ends,  one  of  the  requisities  will  be 
the  acquisition  of  knowledge — whether  one's  ulti- 
mate purpose  be  material  success  or  the  pure  search 
for  Truth.  The  acquisition  of  this  knowledge  will 
require  thought  and  study,  and  thought  and  study 
will  require  concentration. 

Now  this  concentration  will  be  mainly  of  two 
kinds — what  I  shall  call  minute-to-minute  concen- 
tration, and  what  I  shall  call  night-after-night  con- 
centration. Minute-to-minute  concentration  is  the 
ability  to  keep  your  mind  upon  a  certain  subject  for 
a  given  period,  say  for  ten  minutes,  one-half  hour 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  111 

or  two  hours,  without  interruption.  Night-after- 
night  concentration  is  the  ability  to  specialize  in  a 
certain  subject  or  in  a  certain  branch  of  that  sub- 
ject until  you  have  mastered  it  thoroughly,  before 
advancing  to  other  subjects. 

Ere  I  go  further  I  may  have  to  justify  the  con- 
sideration of  this  question  by  asserting  that  con- 
centration is  primarly  an  act  of  will.  It  need  not 
necessarily  be  so,  any  more  than  any  other  good 
or  noble  or  success-forwarding  act  need  be  an  act 
of  will.  If  you  enjoy  working,  getting  up  early, 
remaining  home  nights,  staying  sober,  you  will  do 
so  without  effort.  If  you  are  interested  in  a  book 
or  in  a  particular  subject,  you  will  read  it  or 
meditate  upon  it  without  effort.  But  you  need  will- 
power in  action  precisely  because  you  do  not  enjoy 
doing  these  commendable  things,  and  you  need  will- 
power in  reading,  thought  or  writing  precisely  be- 
cause your  mind  will  otherwise  be  distracted  by  lack 
or  lapses  of  interest  in  the  subject  at  hand  or  by 
greater  interest  in  something  else. 

Now  when  you  take  up  the  sublime  task  of  train- 
ing the  mind  to  concentrate,  you  must  remember 
that  the  act  of  will  involved  is  the  same  in  principle 
as  any  other  act  of  will.  Before  you  begin,  you 
must  be  certain  in  your  own  mind  that  the  end  is 


112  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

worth  while.  There  is  a  price  attached  to  concen- 
tration, as  there  is  to  anything  of  value.  Concen- 
tration is  not  a  beautifully  abstract  quality  of  mind. 
yVe  cannot  concentrate  in  general.  The  very  word 
concentration  implies  specialization;  it  means  con- 
centrating on  some  particular  thing,  and  when  we 
devote  all  or  most  of  our  time  and  attention  to  one 
particular  subject,  we  must  necessarily  have  less 
time  for  other  subjects.  In  other  words,  we  must 
be  content  to  remain  somewhat  ignorant  of  them, 
at  least  for  a  time. 

This  applies  particularly  to  night  after  night 
concentration.  If  you  devote  one  evening's  study 
to  the  quantity  theory  of  money,  the  next  evening 
to  the  problem  of  the  freedom  of  the  will,  the  next 
to  incidents  in  the  life  of  Theodore  Roosevelt,  the 
next  to  historic  types  of  lampshades,  your  mind 
may  eventually  become  an  interesting  depository  of 
stray  bits  of  knowledge,  arousing  the  same  sort  of 
quaint  enjoyment  in  the  minds  of  your  associates 
as  an  old  curiosity  shop,  or  a  second-hand  book- 
store in  which  yellow-backed  novels  of  passion  and 
intrigue  rub  shoulders  with  scientific  treatises  and 
religious  sermons. 

But  such  miscellaneous  reading  is  not  helping 
you  in  any  ultimate  purpose.     You  are  getting  no- 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  113 

where.  You  will  become  neither  an  economist,  nor 
an  ethicist,  nor  a  man  versed  in  biography,  nor 
anything  else  describable  with  a  complimentary 
name.  By  trying  to  know  something  about  every- 
thing, you  will  not  only  miss  knowing  everything 
about  something,  but  you  may  miss  really  knowing 
anything  about  anything.  Your  mind  may  miss 
the  one  advantage  of  an  old  curiosity  shop — that 
the  pieces  of  furniture  in  it,  though  they  may  not 
match  each  other,  are  at  least  in  themselves  complete. 
If  you  give  only  one  or  two  evenings  to  a  subject, 
your  knowledge  of  it  may  be  as  useless  as  a  chair 
with  two  legs.  But  if  you  are  willing  to  realize 
that  any  useful  knowledge  whatever  requires 
specialization,  that  it  means  keeping  evening  after 
evening  on  the  same  subject;  if  you  take  pride  in 
really  knowing  something  about  something,  then 
you  will  be  willing  to  remain  ignorant  of  certain 
subjects,  at  least  for  a  given  time.  Even  if,  like 
Bacon,  you  take  all  human  knowledge  as  your 
province,  you  must  remember  that  even  a  traveler 
who  circles  the  globe  can  go  to  only  one  place  at 
one  time. 

I  have  spoken  here  only  of  keeping  to  one 
subject  on  those  evenings  on  which  you  do  choose 
to  study.     I  have  not  spoken  of  the  evenings  given 


114  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

to  other  things.  It  may  not  be  advisable  to  give 
six  or  seven  evenings  a  week  to  study.  One  needs 
one's  play  to  keep  from  going  stale.  But  there  are 
limits  even  to  this  principle.  No  man  will  become 
an  Aristotle  or  a  Duns  Scotus  on  an  evening  a 
week.  "Most  careers,"  remarked  a  newspaper  writer 
recently,  "are  made  or  marred  in  the  hours  after 
supper." 

.What  applies  to  night-after-night  concentration 
applies  with  much  greater  force  to  minute-to-minute 
concentration.  If  the  mind  is  ever  to  accomplish 
anything  useful,  it  must  be  able  to  keep  itself  for 
a  reasonable  time  on  a  given  subject.  The  very 
completion  of  a  train  of  thought  on  any  subject 
whatsoever  depends  upon  it.  And  the  rules  are 
the  same  old  rules.  You  must  first  be  fully  certain 
in  your  own  mind  that  the  end  is  worth  while.  For 
when  you  are  upon  any  given  train  of  thought,  you 
will  find  new  paths  opening  up  on  either  side, 
pleasant  paths,  paths  that  seem  to  lead  to  worth- 
while destinations,  paths  you  are  tempted  to 
explore.  But  you  must  force  yourself  to  keep  on 
the  road  that  you  began.  You  must  first  get  to 
the  end  of  that.  You  may  make  mental  note  of 
these  potential  digressions,  to  return  to  them  at 
some  later  time;    or  if  you  fear  you  are  going  to 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  115 

forget  them,  you  may  make  written  note  of  them 
as  they  suggest  themselves. 

Concentration  is  not  a  virtue  in  itself.  The 
value  of  concentration  depends  entirely  on  the  value 
of  the  subject  concentrated  upon.  The  only  qual- 
ification to  this  remark  is  that  it  may  often  be 
better  really  to  concentrate  upon  a  less  important 
subject  than  to  play  and  dabble  with  a  more  impor- 
tant one;  for  the  less  important  subject,  if  con- 
centrated upon,  will  at  least  be  mastered. 

I  have  dealt  with  this  subject  of  concentration 
rather  extensively  in  a  former  book,  Thinking  as  a 
Science.  It  was  there  treated  mainly  from  the 
standpoint  of  the  intellect;  here  it  must  be  treated 
from  the  standpoint  of  the  will;  but  as  the  two 
cannot  really  be  kept  separate,  and  as  I  would  only 
be  likely  to  repeat  myself  anyway,  I  take  the  liberty 
of  doing  so  openly : 

"Much  of  our  mind  wandering  is  due  to  the 
fact  that  we  are  not  fully  convinced  of  the  impor- 
tance of  the  problem  being  attacked,  or  that  we 
regard  other  problems  or  ideas  as  more  important. 
Concentration  consists  in  devoting  one's  mind  to 
the  solution  of  one  problem.  During  our  train  of 
thought  associations  bring  up  new  ideas  or  suggest 
problems  which  do   not   bear   on   the   question  at 


116  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

hand.  Now  when  we  wander,  wnen  we  tollow  up 
these  irrelevant  ideas  or  suggested  problems,  or 
when  we  happen  to  glance  at  something  or  hear 
something  and  begin  to  think  of  that,  we  do  so 
because  of  a  half-conscious  belief  that  the  new 
idea,  problem  or  fact  needs  attending  to,  is  impor- 
tant. I  have  already  pointed  out  that  if  this  new 
idea  is  important  it  will  be  so  only  by  accident. 
If  we  were  consciously  to  ask  ourselves  whether 
any  of  these  irrelevant  problems  were  as  important 
as  the  one  we  were  concentrating  upon,  or  even 
important  at  all,  we  should  find,  nine  times  out  of 
ten,  that  they  were  not." 

Mind-wandering  is  only  a  habit.  It  must  be 
broken  just  like  other  bad  habits.  "But,"  I  hear 
you  say,  "all  this  is  beyond  my  control.  I  can't 
keep  my  mind  on  a  book  when  somebody  insists 
on  talking  in  the  same  room.  I  can't  write  any- 
thing when  the  family  in  the  apartment  upstairs 
plays  the  victrola.  I  can't  keep  myself  to  a  train 
of  thought  with  constant  interruptions!" 

But,  with  all  due  respect  to  you,  and  with  full 
realization  of  the  risk  I  run  of  losing  your  respect, 
1  insist  that  you  can.  You  have  done  it.  Certain 
allowances  must  always  be  made  for  the  unspeak- 
able noises  that  other  people  make,   but  you  can 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  117 

ignore  them  easily  enough  when  the  time  comes. 
Can  you  not  recall,  when,  as  a  boy,  you  read  the  ad- 
ventures of  Jack  Harkaway  and  the  Chinamen,  so 
that  you  became  unconscious  of  the  very  room  in 
which  you  were  sitting?  Has  the  memory  of  the 
smile  given  you  by  a  certain  wonderful  girl  never 
come  between  you  and  a  very  prosaic  ledger,  obliter- 
ating the  figures  as  completely  as  if  they  were  the 
fancy  and  the  smile  the  reality?  Has  your  wife  never 
had  to  ask  you  a  question  two  or  three  times  at 
dinner  before  you  answered,  simply  because  you 
were  completely  wrapped  up  in  some  thought  of  a 
business  unpleasantry  that  day,  and  did  not  know 
that  she  had  spoken?  All  these  forms  of  involun- 
tary concentration,  of  which  you  were  not  con- 
scious, were  possible  because  the  interest  in  the 
subject  was  intense  enough. 

Poverty  in  freshness  of  idea  and  in  varied 
expression  tempts  me  again  to  quote  from  myself: 

"Whenever  a  person  is  left  alone  for  a  short 
time,  with  no  one  to  talk  to  and  no  'reading  matter' ; 
when  for  instance,  he  is  standing  at  a  station 
waiting  for  his  train,  or  sitting  at  a  restaurant 
table  waiting  for  his  order,  or  hanging  on  a  sub- 
way strap  when  he  has  forgotten  to  buy  a  news- 
paper, his  'thoughts'  tend  to  run  along  the  tracks 


118  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

they  have  habitually  taken.  If  a  young  man  usually 
allows  a  popular  tune  to  float  through  his  head, 
that  will  be  most  likely  to  happen;  if  he  usually 
thinks  of  that  young  lady,  he  will  most  likely  think 
of  her  then;  if  he  has  often  imagined  himself  as 
some  great  political  orator  making  a  speech  amid 
the  plaudits  of  the  multitude,  he  is  likely  to  see  a 
mental  picture  of  himself  swinging  his  arms,  waving 
flags  and  gulping  water. 

"The  only  way  a  man  can  put  a  stop  to  such 
pleasant  but  uneducative  roamings,  is  to  snap  off 
his  train  of  day-dreaming  the  first  moment  he 
becomes  aware  of  it,  and  to  address  his  mind  to 
some  useful  serious  subject.  His  thoughts  will  be 
almost  sure  to  leak  away  again.  They  may  do 
this  as  often  as  fifteen  times  in  half  an  hour.  But 
the  second  he  becomes  aware  of  it,  he  should  dam 
up  the  stream  and  send  his  thoughts  along  the 
channel  he  has  laid  out  for  them.  If  he  has  never 
done  this,  he  will  find  the  effort  great.  But  if  he 
merely  resolves  now  that  the  next  time  his  mind 
wanders  he  shall  stop  it  in  this  manner,  his  resolve 
will  tend  to  make  itself  felt.  If  he  succeeds  in 
following  this  practice  once,  it  will  be  much  easier 
a  second  time.  Every  time  he  does  this  it  will 
become  increasingly  easy,  until  he  will  have  arrived 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  119 

at  the  point  where  his  control  over  his  thoughts 
will  be  almost  absolute.  Not  only  will  it  be  increas- 
ingly easy  for  him  to  turn  his  mind  to  serious 
subjects.  It  will  become  constantly  more  pleasur- 
able. Frivolous  and  petty  trains  of  thought  will 
become  more  and  more  intolerable." 


XIII 

A  PROGRAM   OF   WORK 

MOST  of  us  live  in  the  Street  of  By-and-By. 
We  honestly  intend  to  do  certain  things,  and 
for  some  strange  reason  we  keep  on  intending  to  do 
them.  There  is  nothing  specially  difficult  about 
them.  They  demand  no  gritting  of  teeth,  no  heroic 
sacrifice.  They  are  simply  not  as  pleasant  as  certain 
other  things.  They  do  not  have  to  be  done  until 
a  certain  time,  or  perhaps  there  is  no  particular  time 
at  all  at  which  they  have  to  be  done.  They  can  be 
done  just  as  well  tomorrow  as  today.  So  we  put 
them  off  till  tomorrow — that  tragic  tomorrow  that 
never  comes.  We  become  members  of  what  one 
writer  has  called  the  "Going  To"  family.  We  enlist 
in  the  Army  of  the  Procrastinators. 

The  worst  of  it  is,  that  many  of  us  do  not  look 
upon  the  doing  of  these  numberless  small  tasks  as 
anything  requiring  will-power  at  all,  simply  because 
they  do  not  come  in  the  teeth-gritting  class.  We 
intend  to  do  them,  and  we  are  apt  to  think  that  our 
intention  of  doing  them  makes  them  as  good  as 
120 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  121 

done.  We  are  like  the  habitual  cigarette  smoker 
who  tells  you  he  could  quit  at  any  time— the  thing 
has  no  hold  on  him — only  he  doesn't  want  to  quit. 
tWhen  we  find  that  many  of  these  little  tasks  are 
going  by  default,  many  of  us,  instead  of  blaming 
ourselves,  indulge  in  a  great  deal  of  self-pity  at 
our  lack  of  time.  But  a  few  of  us  catch  glimpses 
of  the  truth;  we  suspect  that  we  are  not  as  efficient 
as  we  might  be;  we  may  even  suspect  that  our 
procrastination  has  something  to  do  with  lack  of 
will-power.     These  two  suspicions  are  correct. 

Aside  from  any  moral  benefit,  it  would  be  an 
untold  blessing  in  itself  if  we  could  get  these  things 
done — if  we  had,  for  instance,  a  private  secretary 
who  would  work  for  the  mere  honor  of  it  and 
would  not  have  even  to  receive  instructions.  I  refer 
to  such  tasks  as  writing  personal  letters  to  friends; 
working  off  letters  that  you  "owe"  to  people;  pay- 
ing bills ;  sending  in  your  coupons  to  collect  interest 
on  a  bond;  taking  a  pair  of  shoes  around  to  be 
half-soled,  or  calling  for  a  pair  you  left  there; 
sorting  out  the  old  papers  in  your  desk;  bringing 
neatness  out  of  chaos  ...  I  need  not  elaborate 
further.  You  have  probably  been  already  reminded 
unpleasantly  of  some  concrete  tasks. 

These  tasks  are  not  performed  by  intentions  to 


122  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

perform  them.  The  first  requisite  is  to  set  a  definite 
time  for  them,  and  to  allow  nothing  to  make  you 
postpone  that  time.  Instead  of  saying,  "I  will 
have  to  write  Fred;  I  really  must  write  Fred;  it's 
a  shame  how  long  I've  been  putting  it  off,"  you 
will  say,  "I  will  write  Fred  next  Tuesday,"  or  "I 
will  write  to  Fred  not  later  than  next  Tuesday/' 
And  you  will  keep  a  desk  calendar  or  some  other 
form  of  reminder,  and  your  promise  to  yourself 
you  will  regard  as  sacred. 

Now  it  may  not  make  a  great  deal  of  difference 
to  Fred  whether  he  gets  your  letter  next  Tuesday 
or  whether  he  does  not  get  it  until  two  weeks  from 
next  Tuesday.  But  it  will  make  a  great  deal  of 
difference  to  you.  You  will  be  disciplining  your- 
self morally.  You  will  be  building  up  a  will. 
Beware  of  curling  your  lip  because  these  tasks  are 
individually  insignificant.  The  most  imposing 
edifices  that  humanity  has  constructed  (if  I  must 
be  eloquent)  have  been  built  only  by  little  brick 
on  little  brick.  Moreover,  you  will  find  that  these 
little  tasks  are  getting  themselves  done.  You  will 
live  a  completer  life,  free  from  the  ever-present 
preoccupation  of  tasks  unfinished.  And  you  will 
experience  the  peculiarly  delightful  gratification 
that  comes  from  a  sense  of  efficiency. 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  123 

Note  that  there  is  nothing  rigid  or  brittle  about 
such  a  program.  You  may  not  want  to  write  Fred 
immediately  after  you  get  his  letter,  for  you  may 
not  want  the  correspondence  to  be  too  frequent. 
But  by  marking  a  certain  definite  time  you  can  do 
what  you  had  not  previously  done. 

A  program  of  work  may  be  laid  out  for  the 
year,  for  the  week,  for  the  day  or  for  the  hour; 
or  one  program  may  be  contained  within  the  other. 
You  should  lay  out  your  longest-range  program 
first,  for  that  will  define  the  direction  and  scope  of 
your  efforts.  The  nature  of  this  long  program  will 
depend  upon  your  ultimate  purposes  in  life.  Your 
aim  may  simply  be  general  culture,  but  even  in 
this  instance  you  will  realize  that  haphazard  reading 
is  of  little  value,  and  you  will  draw  up  a  list  of 
books  to  be  "covered"  that  year.  Or  you  may 
decide  that  specialization  would  be  more  beneficial, 
and  you  may  say  to  yourself :  "For  the  following 
year  I  will  devote  my  evenings  to  the  study  of 
money  and  banking,"  or  you  may  decide  to  make  it 
the  history  of  English  literature,  or  the  apprecia- 
tion of  painting  and  a  critical  knowledge  of  the 
great  masters. 

Having  thus  defined  your  efforts  for  the  year, 
so  that  you  know  exactly  the  goal  to  which  you 


124  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

are  heading,  you  may  come  directly  to  a  plan  for 
the  week.  You  may  decide  that  two  or  three  hours 
should  be  given  to  your  study  or  improvement  on 
Monday,  Tuesday,  Thursday  and  Friday  evenings; 
or  you  may,  if  you  think  you  have  the  will-power, 
allow  for  something  "turning  up"  on  one  of  those 
nights,  and  simply  set  aside  any  four  evenings  a 
week.  I  insert  the  phrase  "if  you  think  you  have 
the  will-power"  because  this  more  elastic  plan  does, 
paradoxically,  require  more  will-power  than  the 
more  rigid  program.  On  Monday  and  Tuesday 
something  is  likely  to  turn  up — you  may  be  tempted 
to  go  to  a  moving  picture,  some  friend  may  suggest 
bridge — and  knowing  that  your  program  does  not 
tie  you  down  to  Monday  or  Tuesday,  you  may 
accede;  but  you  will  find  yourself  paying  for  it 
heavily  at  the  end  of  the  week;  and  four  evenings 
in  succession,  especially  if  they  include  Saturday 
evening,  may  strain  your  will-power  to  the  breaking 
point.  Moreover,  in  making  engagements  ahead 
you  are  likely  to  over-commit  yourself. 

"I  suppose  I  could  learn  it  just  as  well  at  home 
as  by  going  to  night-school,"  you  have  often  heard 
people  say,  "but  I  find  that  I  can't  study  at  home." 
Here  is  proof  that  home-study  requires  more  will- 
power than  going  to  night-school;    yet  night-school 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  125 

is  far  more  rigid,  both  in  its  evenings  a  week,  and 
in  its  hours  during  those  evenings,  than  home-study 
could  possibly  be.  It  is  precisely  because  of  this 
rigidity  that  night-school  is  easier  to  attend. 

But  a  further  element  must  also  be  admitted. 
It  is  much  easier  to  say  to  a  friend:  "I'm  sorry; 
I'd  like  to  go.  But  I  have  to  go  to  night-school," 
than  it  is  to  say,  "I'm  sorry;  but  I  have  to — stay 
home  and  study."  Your  friend  is  likely  to  be 
skeptical.  For  some  reason  he  may  be  unable  to 
see  that  an  obligation  to  yourself  is  quite  as  sacred 
as  an  obligation  to  others.  And  once  he  finds  that 
your  program  is  elastic,  your  case  is  doomed. 
Study,  if  you  must,  on  evenings  when  others  would 
like  to  have  you  go  out,  but  not  when  he  would. 
This  is  his  attitude;  and  it  is  going  to  take  all 
your  resources  of  tact  to  meet  it.  Moreover,  the 
truth  must  be  told:  we  are  ashamed  of  having 
our  friends  discover  that  we  are  seeking  self-im- 
provement. That  is  why  we  shrink  from  confessing 
our  real  reasons. 

Your  first  tendency,  doubtless,  especially  in 
drawing  up  any  program  of  work  or  of  little 
things  to  do  in  a  single  night,  will  be  to  plan  too 
much.  You  will  find  yourself  greatly  underestimat- 
ing the  time  it  takes  you  to  perform  a  particular 


126  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

task,  or  greatly  overestimating  the  number  of 
tasks  you  can  perform.  A  program  is  valuable  if 
for  no  other  reason  than  that  it  brings  out,  as  noth- 
ing else  could,  how  you  have  been  frittering  away 
your  time  before  you  started  to  formulate  programs. 
Even  if  you  do  not  live  up  to  your  schedule,  you 
will  probably  get  more  work  done  than  you  would 
have  without  one.  But  it  is  bad  policy  habitually 
to  overplan.  You  may  arrive  at  the  point  where 
you  will  not  even  expect  to  live  up  to  your  scheme. 
It  is  much  easier  for  the  discipline  of  will-power 
to  plan  modestly  and  to  carry  out  your  schedule 
than  to  plan  greatly  and  fail.  The  first  builds 
self-confidence;    the  second  destroys  it. 


XIV 


THE  DAILY  CHALLENGE 


XI  71LL-P0WER,  in  its  highest  sense,  is  asso- 
*  *  ciated  with  the  Napoleons,  the  Robert  Braces, 
and  the  Luthers.  We  connect  it  either  with  great 
historic  characters,  men  of  action  who  have  shaken 
the  world,  or  with  the  noble  and  almost  incredible 
sacrifices  of  the  Christian  martyrs. 

Will-power  in  the  heroic  sense  is  not  dead.  If 
any  one  had  ever  thought  so,  he  must  have  stopped 
believing  so  in  1914.  Millions  of  men  went  forth 
to  die  for  their  faith,  and  seven  million  dead  on 
the  battlefield  are  seven  million  crushing  answers  to 
the  cynic.  If  men  will  show  such  will  for  their 
country,  they  will  show  even  more  for  their  religious 
faith.  Lest  we  forget  the  sacrifices  of  a  former 
age,  let  me  quote  a  few  extracts  from  Taine's 
account,  taken  from  Noailles,  Fox,  Neal,  and  other 
sources : 

"In  three  years,  under  Mary,  nearly  three  hun- 
dred persons,  men,  women,  old  and  young,  some  all 

127 


128  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

but  children,  allowed  themselves  to  be  burned  alive 
rather  than  abjure.  .  .  .  '  'No  one  will  be  crowned,' 
said  one  of  them,  'but  they  who  fight  like  men; 
and  he  who  endures  to  the  end  shall  be  saved.' 
Doctor  Rogers  was  burned  first,  in  presence  of  his 
wife  and  ten  children,  one  at  the  breast.  He  had 
not  been  told  beforehand,  and  was  sleeping  soundly. 
The  wife  of  the  keeper  of  Newgate  woke  him,  and 
told  him  that  he  must  burn  that  day.  'Then,'  said 
he,  'I  need  not  truss  my  points.'  In  the  midst  of 
the  flames  he  did  not  seem  to  suffer.  'His  children 
stood  by  consoling  him,  in  such  a  way  that  he 
looked  as  if  they  were  conducting  him  to  a  merry 
marriage.'  .  .  .  Thomas  Tomkins,  a  weaver  of 
Shoreditch,  being  asked  by  Bishop  Bonner  if  he 
could  stand  the  fire  well,  bade  him  try  it.  'Bonner 
took  Tomkins  by  the  fingers,  and  held  his  hand 
directly  over  the  flame,'  to  terrify  him.  But  'he 
never  shrank,  till  the  veins  and  the  sinews  burst, 
and  the  water  (blood)  did  spirt  in  Mr.  Harpsfield's 
face.'  Bishop  Hooper  was  burned  three  times  over 
in  a  small  fire  of  green  wood.  There  was  too  little 
wood,  and  the  wind  turned  aside  the  smoke.  He 
cried  out,  'For  God's  love,  good  people,  let  me 
have  more  fire.'  Mis  legs  and  thighs  were  roasted; 
one  of  his  hands   fell  off  before  he  expired;    he 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  129 

endured  this  three-quarters  of  an  hour ;  before  him 
in  a  box  was  his  pardon,  on  condition  that  he  would 
retract." 

Such  examples,  with  all  their  horror,  are  a  mighty 
inspiration.  They  are  examples  of  pure  will.  We 
do  not  know  what  part  of  the  astounding  achieve- 
ments of  Napoleon  to  assign  to  his  will  and  what 
part  to  the  intellect  which  was  its  servant.  The 
fortitude  of  these  martyrs  was  a  fortitude  made 
possible  by  the  will  alone. 

But  however  inspiring  may  be  such  examples, 
we  must  guard  against  connecting  our  conception 
of  will-power  too  closely  with  them.  If  we  place 
our  conception  of  will-power  too  high,  we  are  in 
danger  of  failing  to  recognize  it  in  its  humbler 
forms.  The  opportunity  seldom  comes  when  the 
will  is  put  to  such  a  test,  or  anything  remotely 
approaching  such  a  test. 

The  writers  of  the  magazine  advertisements  for 
the  will-power  courses  conceive  a  man  of  will- 
power as  a  man  who  "gets  on,"  an  E.  H.  Harri- 
man  or  a  J.  P.  Morgan,  a  dominant  personality, 
who  must  assume  leadership  and  power ;  who  bends 
others  to  his  will,  or  breaks  them  if  they  will  not 
bend;  who  gets  to  his  goal,  if  need  be,  over  dead 
bodies,  but  who  gets  to  his  goal.    This  is  an  elevat- 


130  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

ing  conception,  but  the  average  man  of  talent  is  apt 
to  find  it  a  trifle  unreal  and  beside  the  point  after 
he  has  finished  Lesson  One  that  evening  and  gone 
to  work  the  next  day.  He  is  resolved  to  mow  down 
all  opposition,  but  when  he  gets  to  the  office  he 
finds  no  opposition.  Everybody  says  Good  Morn- 
ing, pleasantly,  though  a  few  wonder  vaguely  why 
he  has  set  his  jaw  so  tightly.  If  he  is  a  bookkeeper, 
he  goes  to  his  ledger  and  finds  the  same  columns 
of  figures  to  add  up,  the  same  elusive  discrepancies 
to  straighten  out;  and  you  can't  use  will-power  on 
figures,  because  they  wouldn't  understand  it.  You 
can  only  use  will-power  on  persons.  But  if  he  is 
a  sales  clerk  he  cannot  "dominate"  the  customers: 
he  must  be  pleasant  and  tactful.  He  might  tell 
the  floor-walker  what  he  really  thought  of  him,  and 
that  might  give  satisfaction  to  the  soul,  but  it  would 
be  of  doubtful  value  in  getting  ahead  in  business. 
And  even  a  bank  or  a  railroad  president  meets  day 
after  day  the  same  routine  problems,  many  of  which 
involve  heavy  responsibility,  shrewd  and  mature 
judgment,  and  sometimes  a  good  deal  of  thought, 
but  hardly  will-power. 

The  need  for  will-power  thus  seems  a  distant 
need,  which  arises  perhaps  one  day  in  a  hundred. 
or  one  in  a  thousand.     In  fact,  some  people  seem 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  131 

to  feel  that  there  are  no  outlets  for  will-power  in 
this  workaday  world,  unless  you  go  out  of  your 
way  to  create  them.  This  appears  to  be  the  opinion 
of  no  less  a  thinker  than  William  James,  who  writes 
in  his  Psychology : 

"Keep  the  faculty  o£  effort  alive  in  you  by  a 
little  gratuitous  exercise  every  day.  That  is,  be 
systematically  ascetic  or  heroic  in  little  unnecessary 
points,  do  every  day  or  two  something  for  no  other 
reason  than  that  you  would  rather  not  do  it,  so  that 
when  the  hour  of  dire  need  draws  nigh,  it  may 
find  you  not  unnerved  and  untrained  to  stand  the 
test.  Asceticism  of  this  sort  is  like  the  insurance 
which  a.  man  pays  on  his  house  and  goods.  The 
tax  does  him  no  good  at  the  time,  and  possibly 
never  brings  a  return.  But  if  the  fire  does  come, 
his  having  paid  it  will  be  his  salvation  from  ruin. 
So  with  the  man  who  has  daily  inured  himself  to 
habits  of  concentrated  attention,  energetic  volition, 
and  self-denial  in  unnecessary  things.  He  will 
stand  like  a  tower  when  everything  rocks  around 
him,  and  when  his  softer  fellow-mortals  are  win- 
nowed like  chaff  in  the  blastj' 

This  is  a  noble  passage,  but  I  cannot  accept  James' 
implied  view  that  daily  life  gives  so  few  oppor- 
tunities for  the  real  exercise  of  will.     Our  whole 


132  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

modern  journey  from  the  incubator  to  the  crema- 
torium is  taken  in  laps  of  twenty-four  hours  each; 
each  divided  sharply  from  the  other;  each  with  its 
routine  much  like  the  other;  but  each  with  its  own 
challenge.  And  our  way  of  meeting  that  challenge 
from  day  to  day  is  our  way  of  meeting  the  whole 
challenge  of  life.  Every  day  we  are  faced  writh  a 
challenge,  sometimes  large,  often  small,  but  it  is 
always  there  if  we  but  face  it.  We  do  not  have 
to  create  it.  We  do  not  have  to  do  unnecessary 
things.  And  if  we  meet  it,  we  pay  a  premium  for 
which  we  receive  a  return,  and  sometimes  a  hand- 
some one,  whether  our  house  burn  down  or  not. 

One  test  of  whether  you  have  met  this  challenge 
or  not  is  in  the  way  you  feel  at  the  end  of  the  day. 
If  you  have  met  it,  you  will  be  rewarded  with  a 
glow  of  soul.  If  you  have  evaded  or  postponed  it, 
your  lot  will  be  a  sense  of  guilt.  It  may  be  ever  so 
slight,  but  it  will  always  be  there,  an  uneasiness,  like 
dirt  in  a  corner. 

I  have  already  mentioned  the  little  daily  duties 
that  most  of  us  put  off  or  leave  undone.  But 
there  are  duties  of  a  more  serious  sort,  duties  that 
require  one  not  only  to  overcome  laziness  but  to 
surmount  moral  fear.  Principal  among  these  are 
unpleasant  interviews. 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  133 

Let  us  take  the  very  practical  matter  of  asking 
for  a  raise.  You  think  you  are  worth  more  money. 
You  know  you  are.  You  have  always  known  it. 
You  have  been  waiting  long  enough  for  the  boss 
to  find  it  out,  but  the  boss  has  proved  either  singu- 
larly stupid  or  singularly  selfish,  and  you  have 
determined  either  to  enlighten  him  or  to  uplift  him 
spiritually.     Your  mind  is  fully  made  up. 

But  though  your  mind  was  made  up  a  week  ago, 
you  haven't  asked  him  yet  because  on  one  day  you 
had  a  mountain  of  work  that  had  to  be  shovelled 
out  of  the  way,  and  on  the  next  you  had  been  out 
late  the  night  before  and  didn't  feel  equal  to  an 
interview,  and  on  the  next  you  didn't  look  very 
neat,  and  on  the  next  you  were  waiting  for  some 
mistake  of  yours  to  "blow  over,"  and  on  the  next 
the  boss  wasn't  in  a  good  mood.  In  fact,  you  will 
tell  yourself  anything  except  that  you  didn't  have 
the  courage. 

And  yet  to  put  off  such  an  interview,  when  you 
have  fully  determined  that  it  must  be  had,  is  like 
putting  off  getting  up  in  the  morning,  or  putting 
off  diving  into  cold  water  when  you  have  gone  down 
for  a  swim.  The  longer  you  stand  on  the  diving 
board  the  colder  the  water  seems  to  get,  the  more 
terrifying  becomes  the  height   at   which  you  are 


134  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

standing  from  it.  There  is  a  psychological  theory 
that  emotion  follows  action,  and  not  action  emotion ; 
that  you  do  not  run  away  from  a  bear  because  a 
fear  seizes  you,  but  that  fear  seizes  you  because 
you  are  running  away.  Whatever  of  truth  there 
may  be  in  this,  it  is  certainly  true  that  though  you 
may  hesitate  because  you  fear  to  dive,  you  also  fear 
to  dive  because  you  hesitate;  and  the  like  applies 
to  interviewing  the  boss  for  an  increase. 

Here  again  I  do  not  suggest  inflexibility.  It  is 
sometimes  better  to  do  a  certain  thing  in  the  future ; 
but  if  you  really  mean  to  do  it  at  all,  I  insist  upon 
fixing  a  definite  time. 

Another  challenge  which  is  apt  to  occur  once  or 
twice  on  almost  any  day  is  the  necessity  for  pro- 
nouncing that  most  difficult  of  all  words  for  the 
tongue — No.  A  friend  who  has  drifted  from  one 
job  to  another,  finally  becomes  a  salesman  for  oil 
stock,  and  wants  you  to  "invest"  in  it;  another 
wants  to  borrow  money;  another  wants  you  to  go 
into  partnership  with  him ;  another  wants  you  to 
spend  with  him  an  evening  that  you  have  set  aside 
for  study;  another  offers  you  a  drink  after  you 
have  signed  the  pledge.  When  you  are  with  a  young 
lady,  a  professional  beggar,  whom  you  privately 
suspect  to  be  a  fraud,  an  idler  and  a  parasite,  perhaps 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  135 

better  off  than  you  are,  asks  you  for  just  a  little 
silver  change. 

The  answer  you  would  like  to  give  in  each  case 
is  No.  Yet  you  fear  to  give  offense;  you  fear  to 
jeopardize  your  friendship;  you  fear  a  nasty 
retort;  you  fear  having  to  defend  your  position; 
you  fear  embarrassment.  Often  by  refusing  with- 
out unkindness,  but  with  firmness  and  candor  and 
tact,  you  can  reduce  giving  offense  to  a  minimum, 
but  it  is  idle  to  imagine  that  you  can  altogether 
avoid  it.  That  part  which  is  altogether  unavoidable 
must  be  faced  courageously.  A  man  cannot  respect 
himself  if  he  grants  a  request  or  gives  money  to  a 
beggar  not  because  he  believes  the  request  is  fair, 
or  to  relieve  the  beggar's  distress,  but  simply  because 
he  cannot  look  his  supplicant  in  the  eye  and  tell 
him  No.  And  the  necessity  for  saying  No  is  a 
daily  necessity,  an  unpleasant  duty  that  you  do  not 
have  to  go  out  of  your  way  to  find. 

To  add  to  all  this,  as  a  daily  exercise  for  will- 
power, there  is  always  the  infinitude  of  bad  habits 
to  be  broken  and  of  good  habits  to  be  formed.  As 
a  mere  specific  example,  a  cold  shower  every 
morning,  if  you  are  physically  fitted  for  it,  is  an 
excellent  will  exercise,  which  more  than  pays  for 
itself  in  its  effects  upon  your  health. 


XV 

SECOND  AND  THIRD  WINDS 

\T  TE  have  dealt  with  the  humbler  tasks.  We 
»  *  come  now  to  the  tasks  that  are  not  so 
humble.  .We  have  considered  how  we  may  perform 
our  routine  duties.  But  men  of  a  higher  stamp, 
men  with  an  aim  in  life,  men  who  want  to  mean 
something,  are  not  satisfied  with  merely  perform- 
ing routine  duties.  They  aspire  to  something 
nobler  and  more  soul-stirring.  Not  content  with 
fulfilling  the  duties  the  world  lays  upon  them,  they 
want  to  lay  upon  themselves  duties  to  fulfill.  Per- 
haps, with  Bernard  Shaw,  they  feel  that  the  true 
joy  in  life  is  "the  being  used  for  a  purpose  recog- 
nized by  yourself  as  a  mighty  one;  the  being 
thoroughly  worn  out  before  you  are  thrown  on 
the  scrap-heap;  the  being  a  force  of  Nature  instead 
of  a  feverish,  selfish  little  clod  of  ailments  and 
grievances,  complaining  that  the  world  will  not 
devote  itself  to  making  you  happy." 

An  ideal  like  that  in  itself  will  exalt  a  man,  and 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  137 

give  part  of  the  strength  needed  for  its  own 
realization.  But  it  carries  with  it  a  great  danger. 
This  is  the  danger  that  the  ideal,  instead  of  finding 
its  outlet  in  action,  may  evaporate  into  day-dreams 
and  gorgeous  intentions  whose  date  for  fulfillment 
is  always  set  at  some  vague  time  in  the  future. 
As  a  preliminary  antidote   for  such  a  danger,   I 


Lose  this  day  loitering — 'twill  be  the  same  story 
Tomorrow — and  the  next  more  dilatory. 
Then  indecision  brings  its  own  delays 
And  days  are  lost  lamenting  over  days. 
Are  you  in  earnest?     Seize  this  very  minute — 
What  you  can  do,  or  dream  you  can,  begin  it. 
Courage  has  genius,  power  and  magic  in  it ; 
Only  engage,  and  then  the  mind  grows  heated — 
Begin  it  and  the  work  will  be  completed. 

What  Goethe  saw  so  powerfully,  William  James 
saw  later,  and  elaborated  the  idea  in  a  theory  which 
goes  beyond  even  this.  That  theory  appeared  in  an 
essay  called  "The  Energies  of  Men."  In  all 
English  and  American  literature  there  is  nothing 
of  its  short  length — a  mere  thirty-five  pages — so 
calculated  to  inspire  a  man  with  a  passion  for  work. 
It  is  published  in  his  Memories  and  Studies,  (Long- 


138  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

mans,  Green)  and  separately.  By  all  means,  read 
it.  Read  it,  if  you  can,  before  your  next  meal.  If 
it  does  not  inspire  you  with  a  passion  to  go  out 
immediately  and  do  something  large  and  glorious, 
you  are  probably  not  normal. 

Every  sentence  and  illustration  of  that  essay  is 
so  indispensable  and  full  of  meaning,  that  I  can- 
not hope  to  give  you  any  summary,  or  the  "gist" 
of  it.  I  can,  however,  give  you  a  premonition  of 
what  it  is  about,  and  this  itself  can  best  be  done, 
for  the  most  part,  in  James's  own  words : 

"Everyone  knows  what  it  is,"  he  says,  "to  start 
a  piece  of  work,  either  intellectual  or  muscular, 
feeling  stale.  And  everybody  knows  what  it  is  to 
'warm  up'  to  his  job.  The  process  of  warming  up 
gets  particularly  striking  in  the  phenomenon 
known  as  'second  wind.'  On  usual  occasions  we 
make  a  practice  of  stopping  an  occupation  as  soon 
as  we  meet  the  first  effective  layer  (so  to  call  it) 
of  fatigue.  We  have  then  walked,  played,  or 
worked  'enough,'  so  we  desist.  That  amount  of 
fatigue  is  an  efficacious  obstruction  on  this  side  of 
which  our  usual  life  is  cast.  But  if  an  unusual 
necessity  forces  us  to  press  onward,  a  surprising 
thing  occurs.  The  fatigue  gets  worse  up  to  a  certain 
critical  point,  when  gradually  or  suddenly  it  passes 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  139 

away,  and  we  are  fresher  than  before.  We  have 
evidently  tapped  a  level  of  new  energy,  masked 
until  then  by  the  fatigue-obstacle  usually  obeyed. 
There  may  be  layer  after  layer  of  this  experience. 
A  third  and  fourth  'wind'  may  supervene.  Mental 
activity  shows  the  phenomenon  as  well  as  physical, 
and  in  exceptional  cases  we  may  find,  beyond  the 
very  extremity  of  fatigue-distress,  amounts  of  ease 
and  power  that1  we  never  dreamed  ourselves  to 
own, — sources  of  strength  habitually  not  taxed  at 
all,  because  habitually  we  never  push  through  the 
obstruction,  never  pass  those  early  critical  points." 

For  many  years  James  mused  upon  the  phenom- 
enon of  second  wind,  trying  to  find  a  physiological 
theory.  It  is  evident,  he  decided,  that  our  organ- 
ism has  "stored-up  reserves  of  energy  that  are 
ordinarily  not  called  upon,  but  that  may  be  called 
upon:  deeper  and  deeper  strata  of  combustible  or 
explosible  material  .  .  .  repairing  themselves  by 
rest  as  well  as  do  the  superficial  strata." 

He  compares  our  energy-budget  to  our  nutritive 
budget.  "Physiologists  say  that  a  man  is  in  'nutri- 
tive equilibrium'  when  day  after  day  he  neither 
gains  nor  loses  weight.  But  the  odd  thing  is  that 
this  condition  may  obtain  on  astonishingly  different 
amounts  of  food.     Take  a  man  in  nutritive  equili- 


140  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

brium,  and  systematically  increase  or  lessen  his 
rations.  In  the  first  case  he  will  begin  to  gain 
weight,  in  the  second  case  to  lose  it.  The  change 
will  be  greatest  on  the  first  day,  less  on  the  second, 
still  less  on  the  third;  and  so  on,  till  he  has  gained 
all  that  he  will  gain,  or  lost  all  that  he  will  lose,  on 
that  altered  diet.  He  is  now  in  nutritive  equilibrium 
again,  but  with  a  new  weight;  and  this  neither 
lessens  nor  increases  because  his  various  combus- 
tion-processes have  adjusted  themselves  to  the 
changed  dietary.    .    .    . 

"Just  so  one  can  be  in  what  I  might  call  'effic- 
iency-equilibrium' (neither  gaining  nor  losing 
power  when  once  the  equilibrium  is  reached)  on 
astonishingly  different  quantities  of  work,  no 
matter  in  what  direction  the  work  may  be  measured. 
It  may  be  physical  work,  intellectual  work,  moral 
work,  or  spiritual  work. 

"Of  course,"  he  admits,  "there  are  limits :  the 
trees  don't  grow  into  the  sky.  .  .  .  But  the  very 
same  individual,  pushing  his  energies  to  their 
extreme,  may  in  a  vast  number  of  cases  keep  the 
pace  up  day  after  day,  and  find  no  'reaction'  of  a 
bad  sort,  so  long  as  decent  hygienic  conditions  are 
preserved." 

These   are   astonishing   statements ;    approaching, 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  141 

if  true,  a  veritable  revelation.  But  James  goes  on 
to  illustrate  the  truth  of  his  statement  on  a  whole- 
sale scale: 

"Country  people  and  city  people,  as  a  class,  illus- 
trate this  difference.  The  rapid  rate  of  life,  the 
number  of  decisions  in  an  hour,  the  many  things 
to  keep  account  of,  in  a  busy  city  man's  or  woman's 
life,  seem  monstrous  to  a  country  brother.  He 
doesn't  see  how  we  live  at  all.  A  day  in  New  York 
or  Chicago  fills  him  with  terror.  The  danger  and 
noise  make  it  appear  like  a  permanent  earthquake. 
But  settle  him  there,  and  in  a  year  or  two  he  will 
have  caught  the  pulse-beat.  He  will  vibrate  to  the 
city's  rhythms;  and  if  he  only  succeeds  in  his 
avocation,  whatever  that  may  be,  he  will  find  a  joy 
in  all  the  hurry  and  the  tension,  he  will  keep  the 
pace  as  well  as  any  of  us,  and  get  as  much  out  of 
himself  in  any  week  as  he  ever  did  in  ten  weeks 
in  the  country.    .    .    . 

"The  transformation,  moreover,  is  a  chronic  one : 
the  new  level  of  energy  becomes  permanent." 

How  are  we  to  produce  these  marvellous  results? 
How  are  we  to  draw  on  our  vast  unused  powers 
and  make  them  available?  How  are  we  to  keep 
ourselves  going  at  the  highest  efficient  speed  on 
all  six  cylinders,  instead  of  idling  along,  knocking 


142  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

on  one,  losing  compression  on  another,  and  missing 
on  three? 

In  the  instance  of  the  country  folk  in  the  city, 
the  stimuli  of  those  who  successfully  respond  and 
undergo  the  transformation,  are,  in  James's  words, 
"the  example  of  others,  and  crowd-pressure  and 
contagion."  There  is  also  duty.  "The  duties  of 
new  offices  of  trust  are  constantly  producing  this 
effect  on  the  human  beings  appointed  to  them." 

But  there  are  other  stimuli  than  these  for  bring- 
ing out  our  latent  resources.  I  cannot  quote  all 
the  inspiring  examples  which  James  cites  to  show 
the  diverse  ways  in  which  the  resources  have  been 
drawn  on,  but  I  can  summarize  the  "stimuli"  which 
he  credits  for  them.  They  include,  in  addition  to 
those  just  mentioned:  excitements,  ideas,  efforts, 
love,  anger,  religious  crises,  love-crises,  indignation- 
crises,  despair  in  some  cases,  the  suppression  of 
"fearthought,"  which  is  the  "self-suggestion  of  in- 
feriority" (phrases  he  borrows  from  Horace 
Fletcher),  systematic  ascetism,  "beginning  with  easy 
tasks,  passing  to  harder  ones,  and  exercising  day 
by  day." 

Finally  he  adds:  "The  normal  opener  of  deeper 
and  deeper  levels  of  energy  is  the  will.  The  diffi- 
culty is  to  use   it,   to  make  the  effort  which  the 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  143 

word  'volition'  implies.  ...  It  is  notorious  that 
a  single  successful  effort  of  moral  volition,  such 
as  saying  'no'  to  some  habitual  temptation,  or  per- 
forming some  courageous  act,  will  launch  a  man 
on  a  higher  level  of  energy  for  days  and  weeks, 
will  give  him  a  new  range  of  power.  'In  the  act 
of  uncorking  the  whiskey  bottle  which  I  had 
brought  home  to  get  drunk  upon,'  said  a  man  to 
me,  'I  suddenly  found  myself  running  out  into  the 
garden,  where  I  smashed  it  on  the  ground.  I  felt 
so  happy  and  uplifted  after  this  act,  that  for  two 
months  I  wasn't  tempted  to  touch  a  drop.'  " 

There  is  one  stimulus  to  breaking  down  the 
fatigue-barriers  which  James,  though  he  occasion- 
ally appears  to  get  close  to  it,  does  not  mention.  It 
is  a  very  important  stimulus.  In  fact,  I  am  quite 
prepared  to  call  it  the  most  important  of  them  all. 
It  is  sometimes  derivative;  and  includes,  in  part, 
one  or  two  of  the  stimuli  already  referred  to.  This 
stimulus  is  intensity  of  interest. 

Interest,  excitement,  absorption  in  the  pursuit  of 
an  object,  make  you  forget  yourself  and  your  dis- 
comforts. A  man  who  is  so  tired  out  from  the  day 
at  the  office  that  he  cannot  read  his  newspaper  on 
the  subway,  who  brings  home  some  work  and  is 
too  tired  to  understand  it  after  dinner,  though  he 


144  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

makes  several  attempts  and  several  fresh  starts  to 
"get  his  mind  down  to  it,"  may  none  the  less  turn 
to  a  detective  story,  and  follow  the  course  of  its 
characters,  the  clues,  the  shrewd  mental  workings 
of  the  detective,  trying  to  anticipate  his  deductions 
and  conclusions,  all  with  the  most  intense  concen- 
tration and  the  highest  relish.  He  may  feel  too 
worn  out  mentally  to  sit  home  and  read  a  con- 
sular report  on  a  matter  of  interest  to  his  business, 
a  report  containing  no  long  chains  of  reasoning  nor 
a  single  subtle  statement;  yet  he  will  not  feel  too 
tired  to  dress  for  the  theatre  and  enjoy  a  Shaw 
comedy  to  the  full,  with  one  clever  and  subtle 
epigram  touching  off  another  like  a  package  of  fire- 
crackers. A  stupid  office  boy  will  show  intelligence 
about  baseball  and  professional  boxing  gossip.  The 
explanation  in  each  case  is  simply  a  difference  in 
interest. 

This  principle  in  the  mental  field  applies  quite 
as  strongly  in  the  physical.  A  man  who  would  be 
completely  tired  out  if  he  beat  a  rug  for  his  wife, 
will  play  five  sets  of  tennis  of  an  afternoon,  absorb- 
ing ten  times  as  much  physical  energy.  The  first 
is  "work,"  the  second  "pla)'-"  Every  soldier  is 
familiar  with  the  immense  difference  it  makes  to 
him  whether  he  is  drilling  with  or  without  music: 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  145 

in  the  first  case  his  step  is  lighter,  his  heart  is 
lighter,  his  rifle  is  lighter;  his  fatigue  is  half  gone. 
Modern  gymnasiums  are  beginning  to  recognize  this 
effect  by  giving  their  calisthenic  exercises  to  the 
music  of  a  piano  or  a  phonograph.  But  both  drill- 
ing and  calisthenics  are  considered  "work,"  and  the 
principle  is  still  better  illustrated  at  a  dance,  where 
a  man  is  quite  unconscious  (unless  his  partner  is 
awkward  or  unattractive)  that  he  is  working. 
Every  man  who  has  ever  adventured  upon  a  ball- 
room floor  can  tell  370U  how  much  better  he  can 
dance,  how  much  more  uncontrollable  is  his  craving 
to  dance,  how  much  longer  he  can  dance,  with 
good  music  than  with  bad.  A  man  will  go  to 
a  social  affair,  and  he  will  dance  and  dance; 
he  will  be  there  for  every  encore;  he  will  clap 
and  clap  for  more;  and  when  the  affair  is  over, 
and  the  strains  of  "Home,  Sweet  Home"  have 
sent  him  home  in  spite  of  himself,  he  will  fall  into  a 
taxicab  in  a  state  of  utter  collapse;  and  when  he 
is  arrived  home,  will  scarcely  have  the  energy  to 
undress  for  bed.  He  will  finally  be  in  bed  at  any- 
where from  half  past  one  to  half  past  three  in  the 
morning.  But  let  him  stay  in  the  office  till  after 
midnight,  let  him  "work"  till  half  past  one  or  half 
past  three  in  the  morning,  and  till  the  end  of  his  life 


146  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

he  will  never  have  done  telling  about  that  prodigy  of 
accomplishment. 

The  same  principle  which  applies  to  the  common 
man  applies  to  the  genius.  It  may  sometimes  even 
appear  to  make  a  common  man  into  a  genius.  The 
histories  of  philosophy  and  science  abound  with 
examples  of  thinkers  apparently  apathetic  and  in- 
dolent by  nature,  but  who,  once  upon  the  scent  of 
a  new  and  original  theory  or  discovery,  have  bent 
themselves  to  an  enormous  and  astounding  amount 
of  thinking  and  reading  and  experimenting  and  fact- 
collecting.  The  infinite  patience  and  industry  of 
Darwin,  once  he  had  hit  upon  the  idea  of  biological 
evolution  and  the  struggle  for  survival,  and  the 
change  of  Herbert  Spencer  from  indolence  to  ambi- 
tion, once  he  had  glimpsed  evolution  as  a  universal 
law,  applying  not  only  to  the  body,  but  to  the  mind, 
to  nations,  to  social  and  economic  institutions,  to 
language,  to  the  stars,  to  morals,  to  manners,  to 
beliefs  and  theories,  and  the  marvellous  erudition 
which  he  acquired  in  gathering  all  these  facts  and 
weaving  them  into  a  gigantic  system  of  twenty 
volumes  of  philosophy  in  spite  of  the  grave  handi- 
caps of  poor  finances  and  poor  health, — these  are 
but  two  examples  out  of  hundreds  that  might  be 
cited. 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  147 

The  common  idea  that  geniuses  as  a  rule  are 
lazy,  with  a  distinct  aversion  for  work  in  general, 
is  one  of  the  greatest  of  untruths.  The  untruth 
has  its  origin  in  the  fact  that  geniuses  usually  have 
an  aversion  toward  the  particular  kind  of  work 
which  their  fathers  or  the  world  would  set  them  to. 
The  father  would  set  the  son  up  in  some  respectable 
profession,  make  him  a  minister,  a  lawyer,  a  stock- 
broker, or  have  him  succeed  the  father  as  head  of 
the  tin-plate  mills;  but  the  genius  will  have  none 
of  it.  He  is  neither  docile  nor  tractable;  he  will 
forge  his  own  path.  But,  if  he  be  a  true  genius, 
then  once  he  has  struck  that  path,  which  natural 
inclination,  nay,  which  every  fibre  of  his  being 
demands  that  he  follow,  his  industry  and  pertinacity 
will  make  that  of  your  average  respectable  business 
man  look  like  the  merest  dawdling.  If  Goethe  had 
been  lazy,  could  he  have  turned  out  sixty  volumes? 
Could  Defoe  have  turned  out  two  hundred  and  ten? 
Could  Shakespeare,  greatest  of  them  all,  have  turned 
out  thirty-seven  plays  and  acted  in  them  ?  Take  any 
classic  writer  of  fiction,  Scott  or  Dickens  or  Dumas 
or  Dostoevsky,  and  recall  what  an  imposing  thing- 
is  the  "complete  works"  of  any  one  of  them  when 
gathered  in  uniform  binding!  Could  indolent  men 
have  wrought  these  things? 


148  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

We  may  consider  even  the  classic  examples  of 
literary  indolence — Samuel  Johnson,  let  us  say.  He 
usually  wrote  only  when  spurred  on  by  the  need  of 
money,  and  then  only  enough  to  keep  himself  and 
his  wife  from  starving.  After  he  was  pensioned 
by  the  king,  he  indulged  his  natural  sloth  by  lying 
in  bed  until  mid-day  and  after.  Yet  he  carried  on 
his  magazine,  the  Rambler,  twice-a-week  for  two 
years  single-handed;  he  produced  eight  volumes  of 
essays,  many  volumes  of  biographies,  and  his  im- 
mense Dictionary;  and  to  pay  for  his  mother's 
funeral,  wrote  Rasselas  in  eight  nights.  It  is  evi- 
dent that  when  Johnson  once  set  himself  to  a  task, 
his  powers  of  sustained  concentration  were  such  as 
only  the  rarest  mortals  can  equal. 

What  we  find  in  literature,  we  find  in  every  other 
art.  A  lazy  Michael  Angelo  could  not  have  built 
St.  Peters,  to  say  nothing  of  his  other  works.  A 
lazy  Beethoven  or  Mozart  could  not  have  composed 
the  number  of  works  that  these  men  did.  Franz 
Schubert,  known  for  his  easy-going  Bohemian  life, 
always  out  of  funds,  always  care  free,  yet  managed 
to  turn  out  several  overtures,  eight  symphonies,  and 
six  hundred  songs! 

The  catalog  does  not  end  with  literature  and  the 
arts.      Napoleon  was  such  a  gourmand   for  work 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  149 

that  he  could  frequently  spare  only  four  hours  a 
night  for  sleep,  and  sometimes  went  without  that. 
Thomas  A.  Edison  is  perhaps  the  greatest  inventor 
that  the  world  has  ever  seen.  By  either  inventing 
or  improving  the  electric  light,  the  phonograph,  the 
telephone,  the  moving  picture,  and  patenting  hun- 
dreds of  other  inventions,  he  has  done  more  than 
any  single  man  to  make  our  present-day  material 
civilization  what  it  is.  Yet,  though  now  in  his 
seventies,  he  hardly  ever  takes  a  holiday,  sleeps  only 
four  consecutive  hours,  and  works  at  all  hours  of  the 
day  and  night.    One  could  go  on  and  on. 

And  how  are  these  prodigious  achievements 
possible?  Geniuses  and  artists  do  not  doggedly 
drag  themselves  through  their  work.  That  is  not 
their  attitude  toward  it.  They  get  so  much  work 
done  because  the  work  they  do  is  their  play,  their 
recreation,  their  passion. 

And  it  is  so  because  of  their  intensity  of  interest. 
"Warming  up  to  one's  work,"  as  cited  by  James, 
and  the  manner  in  which  "the  mind  grows  heated," 
as  expressed  by  Goethe,  are  simply  ways  of  saying 
that  though  you  may  broach  your  work  without 
interest  and  without  enthusiasm,  you  are  gradually 
or  suddenly  seized  by  an  interest,  which  up  to  a 
certain  point  continues  to  mount.     With  the  genius 


150  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

this  interest  is  greater  than  with  the  common  man. 
As  psychologists  have  pointed  out,  a  man  is  not  a 
genius  because  he  concentrates  more  than  the  ordi- 
nary man;  he  concentrates  more  because  he  is  a 
genius.  His  ideas  overflow;  they  come  with  such 
rapidity,  they  change  the  aspects  of  his  subject 
with  such  kaleidoscopic  variety,  they  throw  so  many 
new  and  interesting  and  dazzling  lights  upon  it,  that 
his  attention  is  sustained  by  following  them.  The 
dullard,  no  matter  how  much  of  a  plugger  he  may 
be,  finds  the  utmost  difficulty  in  sticking  to  any  train 
of  thought  of  his  own,  because  his  mind  will  produce 
only  hackneyed  and  barren  ideas,  hardly  worth 
attending  to. 

The  problem,  then,  in  all  creative  work,  is  to 
seek  to  sustain  the  interest  at  the  highest  pitch, 
never  allowing  it  to  flag.  As  long  as  the  interest 
is  intense  enough,  physical  and  mental  fatigue  will 
not  greatly  matter.  Eight  times  out  of  nine  it  is 
flagging  interest,  rather  than  real  fatigue,  which 
makes  us  quit.  The  phenomenon  might  be  repre- 
sented on  a  chart  by  two  lines  or  curves,  such  as 
the  political  economists  use  for  "demand  curves" 
and  "supply  curves."  Starting  at  the  top,  and 
slanting  downward,  (or  starting  low,  mounting 
higher,  and  then  curving  down  again)  would  be  a 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  151 

curve  or  an  irregular  up  and  down  line  representing 
interest.  Starting  at  the  bottom  and  slanting  up- 
ward, would  be  a  curve  or  irregular  line  represent- 
ing fatigue.  At  some  point  these  two  lines  would 
meet;  and  that  would  be  the  point  at  which  you 
would  ordinarily  quit. 

There  are  two  ways  to  put  off  this  point.  If,  by 
diversification,  by  turning  from  one  subject  to 
another,  by  changing  the  aspects  considered  even 
of  a  single  subject,  you  can  sustain  or  increase  your 
interest,  then  the  top  line  representing  interest  will 
not  go  down  to  meet  the  line  representing  fatigue; 
the  fatigue  line  will  have  further  to  go,  higher  to 
mount;  the  point  of  intersection  may  be  surpris- 
ingly postponed. 

But  if  the  two  lines  do  meet,  you  have  still  a 
recourse,  if  you  care  to  use  it.  That  is  your  will. 
You  can  fight  through  the  point  by  sheer  effort, 
trusting  that  after  a  time  either  the  upper  interest 
line  will  rise  again  or  the  lower  fatigue  line  will 
fall,  allowing  you  another  spell  of  achievement; 
and  so  on  through  other  points  of  intersection. 
"Heroism,"  said  W.  T.  Grenfell,  "is  endurance  for 
one  moment  more." 

I  shall  be  told  that  this  is  a  very  dangerous 
doctrine,  that  if  put  into  practice  it  would  lead  to 


152  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

overwork,  overstrain,  and  nervous  breakdown.  It 
is  possible  to  overdo  it;  but  I  am  convinced  that 
for  the  overwhelming  majority  of  those  who  read 
this,  there  is  not  the  slightest  danger  of  such  a 
thing  happening.  Most  breakdowns  attributed  to 
overwork  do  not  come  from  overwork,  but  from 
worry,  dissipation  and  unhygienic  living.  Indolence 
will  always  find  excuses  for  its  own  existence ;  and 
the  greatest  of  these  has  always  been,  and  will 
always  be,  this  bogey  of  "overwork." 


XVI 

MORAL  COURAGE 

T  MUST  extend  a  few  warnings  before  we  part, 
-*•    and  I  can  do  it  briefly. 

Never  boast  to  your  friends  about  your  will- 
power. They  are  apt  to  become  cynical  and  face- 
tious, especially  when  you  have  broken  some  major 
or  minor  resolution  in  a  fit  of  absent-mindedness. 
You  want  your  friends  to  know  of  your  will-power, 
but  the  best  way  for  them  to  discover  it  will  be 
through  your  actions,  not  your  words. 

Don't,  (O  Don't)  be  a  prig.  A  prig  is  a  person 
who  has  become  vastly  well  satisfied  with  himself. 
His  chief  pastime  is  to  fill  the  air  with  lamentations 
over  the  shortcomings  of  other  people.  He  is  satis- 
fied with  himself  because  he  is  so  easily  satisfied. 
He  is  the  little  Jack  Horner  who  says,  "What  a 
good  boy  am  I !"  A  prig's  mind  dwells  on  his  suc- 
cesses and  on  what  he  has  accomplished.  Now  true 
will-power  is  perfectly  compatible  with  true  humil- 
ity, and  a  man  of  true  humility  dwells  on  his  short- 

153 


154  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

comings  and  on  what  he  has  failed  to  accomplish. 
The  prig  is  satisfied  with  himself  because  in  his 
own  eye  he  is  realizing  his  ideals;  but  one  of  the 
reasons  for  this  is  simply  that  his  ideals  are  low 
enough  to  make  it  easy  to  realize  them.  A  man  of 
true  humility  puts  his  ideal  always  a  little  beyond 
his  reach.  A  prig,  for  instance,  takes  credit  to  him- 
self because  he  reads  good  books.  The  man  who 
is  destined  to  grow  criticizes  himself  because,  though 
he  reads  good  books,  he  does  not  think  enough  for 
himself.  A  prig  admires  himself  because  he  has 
given  $5  to  the  Red  Cross.  A  true  man,  in  the 
same  financial  circumstances,  may  be  a  little 
ashamed  of  himself  because  he  has  only  given  $15. 

Things  of  a  similar  tenor  have  been  said  before. 
"It  is  in  general  more  profitable,"  says  Carlyle,  "to 
reckon  up  our  defects  than  to  boast  of  our  attain- 
ments." And  the  words  of  Phillips  Brooks  are 
more  thrilling :  "Sad  is  the  day  for  any  man  when 
he  becomes  absolutely  satisfied  with  the  life  that 
he  is  living,  the  thoughts  that  he  is  thinking  and  the 
deeds  that  he  is  doing;  when  there  ceases  to  be 
forever  beating  at  the  doors  of  his  soul  a  desire  to 
do  something  larger,  which  he  feels  and  knows  he 
was  meant  and  intended  to  do." 

To  resume  our  admonitions.     Don't  try  to  be  a 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  155 

"dominating  personality"  by  shouting  down  your 
opponents  or  co-workers.  Will-power  has  no  neces- 
sary connection  with  noise. 

Don't  be  stubborn.  Especially  don't  be  stubborn 
in  your  social  recreations,  under  the  impression  that 
that  is  will-power.  Don't  say,  "We  will  play 
bridge,"  whether  anybody  else  wants  to  or  not. 
Don't  "break  up  the  party"  just  because  it  won't 
play  your  way.  Don't  fancy  that  will-power  is  in- 
compatible with  making  yourself  agreeable. 

The  difference  between  stubbornness  and  back- 
bone you  may  imagine  to  be  merely  a  difference  in 
invective.  A  man  who  stands  for  principles  in 
which  you  believe,  has  backbone ;  a  man  who  stands 
for  principles  in  which  you  do  not  believe,  is 
stubborn.  But  the  true  difference,  as  I  conceive  it, 
is  that  the  stubborn  man  will  not  listen  to  reason. 
He  will  persist  in  a  course  he  has  adopted  simply  to 
maintain  his  vanity.  He  won't  admit  that  he  has 
been  wrong,  though  he  may  know  it  in  his  heart. 
His  notion  of  will-power  is  sadly  false.  Will-power 
is  consentaneous  to  the  utmost  spirit  of  concilia- 
tion. This  does  not  mean  compromise.  The  man 
with  backbone  is  willing  to  listen  to  argument ;  he 
will  keep  his  mind  open.  But  he  will  not  deviate 
an  inch  in  principle  if  he  knows  himself  to  be  right. 


156  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

He  will  give  in  before  convincing  argument;  he  is 
big  enough  to  admit  that  he  can  make  mistakes, 
and  even  that  he  has  made  one  in  this  particular 
instance.  But  he  will  never  give  in  because  of  mere 
lack  of  physical  and  moral  courage. 

And  moral  courage  is  the  rarest  of  all  the  rare 
things  of  this  earth.  The  war  has  shown  that 
millions  have  physical  courage.  Millions  were 
willing  to  face  rifle  and  cannon,  bombardment, 
poison  gas,  liquid  fire,  and  the  bayonet;  to  trust 
themselves  to  flying  machines  thousands  of  feet  in 
air,  under  the  fire  of  anti-aircraft  guns  and  the 
machine  guns  of  enemy  planes;  to  go  into  sub- 
marines, perhaps  to  meet  a  horrible  death.  But 
how  many  had  the  courage  merely  to  make  them- 
selves unpopular?  The  bitter  truth  must  be  told: 
that  many  enlisted  or  submitted  to  the  draft  on  both 
sides  of  the  conflict  not  because  they  were  con- 
vinced that  they  were  helping  to  save  the  world, 
not  because  they  had  any  real  hatred  for  the  enemy, 
not  to  uphold  the  right,  but  simply  that  they  hadn't 
the  moral  courage  to  face  the  stigma  of  "slacker" 
or  "conscientious  objector." 

Perhaps  it  would  be  unwise  to  take  for  granted 
that  the  passions  of  the  war  have  completely  cooled, 
and  possibly  many  would  miss  the  point  if  I  were 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  157 

to  discuss  this  question  from  the  point  of  view  of 
our  own  side.  But  let  us  look  at  it  from  the  Ger- 
man side.  The  Germans  surely  had  physical  cour- 
age. Not  all  of  them  shouted  "Kamerad,"  or  if 
they  did,  it  is  rather  strange  that  it  took  a  world  in 
arms  more  than  four  years  to  defeat  them.  But 
how  many  had  moral  courage  in  Germany?  How 
many  dared,  like  Maximilien  Harden,  to  lift  their 
voices  against  the  dominant  German  creed,  and  how 
high  dared  he  lift  his?  Fear  of  death?  No;  the 
soldiers  faced  death  bravely.  But  they  feared  un- 
popularity. They  dreaded  the  suspicion  of  their 
fellows. 

What  was  needed  in  war  is  needed  no  less  ur- 
gently in  peace.  How  many  persons  in  public  or 
even  in  private  life  have  the  courage  to  say  the  thing 
that  people  do  not  like  to  hear  ?  The  ancient  Greeks 
were  not  a  superior  race  of  people,  but  in  the  little 
city  of  Athens,  in  a  period  covering  only  a  few 
hundred  years,  there  came  forth  thinkers  the  splen- 
dor of  whose  fame  has  not  been  paralleled,  cer- 
tainly not  exceeded,  in  all  the  nations  of  the  world 
in  all  the  thousands  of  years  that  have  come  since 
then.  Where  is  the  modern  triumvirate  of  philos- 
ophers that  is  greater  than  Aristotle,  Socrates  and 
Plato?     There  may  have  been  a  number  of  reasons 


158  THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER 

that  brought  this  flowering  of  Greek  culture,  but 
one  of  them  was  this :  that  thought  in  Greece  was 
free.  A  man  could  arrive  at  an  opinion  on  a  fun- 
damental question  different  from  that  of  his  fel- 
lows without  bringing  himself  into  contempt.  For 
a  thousand  years  after  Aristotle  there  were  no 
thinkers;  and  the  reason  was,  that  thinking  for 
oneself  was  despised.  The  authority  of  Aristotle 
was  absolute.  It  applied  not  only  to  what  he  had 
positively  said,  but  to  what  he  had  omitted  to  say. 
If  it  was  not  in  Aristotle,  it  did  not  exist.  When, 
in  time,  a  few  great  spirits  began  to  think  for  them- 
selves, they  faced  a  bitter  struggle.  Galileo,  sup- 
porting the  discovery  of  Copernicus  that  the  earth 
revolved  around  the  sun,  and  not  the  sun  around 
the  earth,  was  compelled  publicly  to  repudiate  it. 
Bacon  had  to  plead  against  the  authority  of  Aris- 
totle. Locke  had  to  write :  "Some  will  not  admit 
an  opinion  not  authorized  by  men  of  old,  who  were 
then  all  giants  in  knowledge.  Nothing  is  to  be  put 
into  the  treasury  of  truth  or  knowledge  which  has 
not  the  stamp  of  Greece  or  Rome  upon  it,  and  since 
their  days  will  scarce  allow  that  men  have  been 
able  to  see,  think  or  write." 

What  can  it  profit  a  man  to  be  able  to  think,  if 
he  does  not  dare  to?     One  must  have  the  courage 


THE  WAY  TO  WILL-POWER  159 

to  go  where  the  mind  leads,  no  matter  how  startling 
the  conclusion,  how  shattering,  how  much  it  may 
hurt  oneself  or  a  particular  class,  no  matter  how 
unfashionable  or  how  obnoxious  it  may  at  first  seem. 
This  may  require  the  courage  to  stand  against  the 
whole  world.  Great  is  the  man  who  has  that  courage, 
for  he  indeed  has  achieved  will-power. 


THE  END. 


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